HOW MANY LIVES?www.kochousephchittilappilly.com
I begin my day reading a few news papers. It helps me keep abreast of thedevelopments. On 24th September, I opened the pages and was in for a shock. Thenews of five lives, including that of 3 year old Nefin, lost in an accident at theunmanned level crossing at Aroor. It set me thinking. Precious human lives continue tobe sacrificed at unmanned level crossings. Yet, the authorities haven’t figured out asolution, though science and technology have made rapid strides. Statistics reveal thatabout 312 lives have been lost in such accidents over the last 5 years. And how manymore? The question continued to haunt me. I couldn’t let go of the issue, till my mindconceived an idea.
We travel about on the roads, daily. At many cross roads, signal lights have beeninstalled. Being civilized people, we stop vehicles and permit other vehicles to crosswhen the light is red light. It is this simple signal system that stops massive, speedingtrucks, with loads weighing 40 to 50 tons, on a highway. Can’t we employ a similarsignal system in unmanned level crossings? The signal should be controlled by thenearest stations, on either side of an unmanned level crossing. I have made a pictoralrepresentation. Normally, a station relays a signal to the next station as soon as a trainleaves and the next station sends a signal back to the earlier station when the trainproceeds further.The selfsame system can be utilized by us. As soon as a train leavesone station, the signal would be relayed to the next station as well as the signalsystem, at the unmanned level crossing, in between. Similarly, when the train leavesthe next station, the signal would be sent back to the earlier station as well as thesignal system. With advanced technology, if there is a cable failure or a technicalglitch, an immediate caution indication can be given at the signal system. The costswould be negligible, when compared to the huge costs that the railways regularlyincur to build railway gates and to deploy countless workers. In my view, one signalsystem may not cost more than 1.5 lakh. Think of all the lives we would save. I’ve seenmany such signals, during my travels abroad. Can’t we give it a thought?
We shed tears when such accidents occur. The government and authorities competewith each other in declaring compensation to the kin of the victims. In fact, a new gatewas erected and a watchman deployed within 24 hours after the accident at Aroor.But, inspite of all this, precious lives are lost? In fact, the railway gate is really a thingof the past, installed primarily to obstruct cattle that roamed around, then. Haven’twe evolved to understand and obey signals? Do we really need a rail gate obstructingus, to figure out that a train is approaching and to stop? The proposal that I suggestwould cost much lesser. In fact, the railways could do away with the level cross gatesand it’s operators. For better safety, we could install electronic cameras at the signaland penalize offenders, who jump signals.Our rail lines have long been stained with human blood. It’s time for the railways andthe state government to act. We often think of complex solutions when faced withproblems. The solution to a complex problem may, in fact, be quite simple.‘Prevention is better than cure’. I request the readers to post comments, voicing theirsuggestions, opinions and questions, if any. I would only be glad to answer them.
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