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Funds for manning 75 more level crossings

Funds for manning 75 more level crossings

LAHORE: The Punjab government will release by June this year Rs778 million to the railways to depute staff at another 75 unmanned level crossings.

“Schemes for construction of new roads crossing railway tracks will not be approved as well,” Planning and Development Board Chairman Jahanzeb Khan informed Minister for Railways Khwaja Saad Rafique during a meeting attended by senior officers of P&D and Pakistan Railways (PR) here on Monday.

The chairman said that during last year, the Punjab government had released funds for staff deployment 75 unmanned level crossings. These level crossings were located in thickly-populated areas and declared dangerous during a survey conducted by the Pakistan Railways.

Mr Rafique said that the railways had undertaken an action plan to ensure maximum safety in train operations and the provincial governments were required to allocate budget for underpasses and flyovers before constructing new roads.

Both sides agreed to construct underpasses and flyovers on vulnerable level crossings on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis under the Public Private Partnership.

The meeting also agreed that in order to increase vigilance, a joint monitoring mechanism would be devised by the PR and Punjab government on newly-constructed level crossings. Of the 3,987 level crossings the Pakistan Railways has on its network across the country, about 2,470 are unmanned.

According to a PR data, there are 1,195 unmanned level crossings in Punjab, 133 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 504 in Sindh and 86 in Balochistan.

A total of 511 unmanned level crossings were declared ‘dangerous’ and vulnerable in a survey conducted by the PR in collaboration with the Punjab government in 2013.

According to the estimates, a one-time investment of Rs25bn was required to man all these level crossings while at least Rs2.5bn would be needed per annum for their maintenance and repair besides wages of the staff deputed there.

The Punjab and Sindh governments released funds for converting the unmanned level crossing into manned ones while the governments of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have yet to make any payment in this regard.

During the last three and a half years, around 80 unmanned level crossings had been manned while the work was under way to convert more than 100 others into manned ones.

In 189 train accidents at unmanned level crossings during 2014-16, a total of 80 people were killed and more than 125 injured.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2017

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