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KARACHI: Level crossings, especially unmanned, have become a major source of concern these days owing to the frequent violation of governing rules and regulations by the road users, causing horrific accidents ensuing loss of precious lives, exorbitant and sometimes irreparable damages to rolling stock of Pakistan Railways and staining the image of Railways in the eyes of the public for no fault of its own.

In order to have a sound understanding on the subject, Pakistan Railways Karachi Division conducted a seminar on maximising level crossing safety at its Technical Training Centre in the city. Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) project director Ameer Mohammad Daudpota and Divisional Engineer -III Kamran Ahmad Ghori gave a comprehensive presentation, followed by a panel discussion, comprising three deputy divisional superintendents, who responded to the queries raised by the audience.

Classification of level crossings, special class, engineering and traffic level crossing as well as paraphernalia available to the officials at the level crossings were briefed at length along with the different safety features of every class of level crossing allowed across railway line. The seminar called three basic safety parameters: safety through visibility of level crossing, warning boards and training of manpower, as the bedrock of explicit safety features along the track.

KCR project director Ameer Mohammad Daudpota underlined the policy guidelines for the existing and new level crossings on main lines and branch line. "Currently there are are 121 manned level crossings in Karachi division and PR is exigently working on transformation of unmanned to manned level crossings in the existing states of fiscal and human resources," added the KCR PD.

While discussing the frequent accidents at unmanned level crossings the PD KCR commented that those were governed as per West Pakistan Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1965 and responsibility lied with the road users if any accident happened.

"The 3rd July unmanned level crossing accident resulting in death of Sikh pilgrims transpired not only due to sheer negligence of bus driver but unusual adoption of google map for hastily reaching the destination," commented Daudpota.

The seminar laid emphasis on frequent inspections and timely overhauling of level crossings in order to deter untoward scenarios in future. The Divisional Superintendent Pakistan Railways Karachi Arshad Salam Khattak in his concluding note commented that every one should realise his responsibility as the collective effort would drastically improve the current day position. He directed the divisions' public relations department for initiating a media awareness campaign, in all the media, and approaching PEMRA for obtaining time slot in the electronic media for airing public awareness messages.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020