India’s Railway Ministry has decided not to run night trains on its meter gauge network to prevent accidents at unmanned level crossings across the country, a railway official said Wednesday.
“There are over 1,000 unmanned level crossings across 1,000 km metre gauge network in the country. The aim of stopping night journeys of trains on the metre gauge tracks is to reduce the number of accidents at unmanned crossings in the dark,” the railway official said. “The trains will continue their journey only during the day time. The decision is likely to affect movement of some 80 passenger trains,” he added. The move came in the wake of the deaths of 13 school children at an unmanned level crossing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh last week.
As many as 13 children were killed and seven others injured after a speeding train hit their school van at an unmanned crossing at Dudhi railway crossing in Kushinagar, over 320 km from Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow Thursday. The state-owned Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest train networks, criss-crossing the country from north to south.
It operates some 9,000 passenger trains and carries nearly 23 million passengers every day. But train disasters are quite common in India as much of its colonial-era infrastructure is out of date and a number of railway crossings are unmanned. The Railway Ministry has already vowed to eliminate all unmanned level crossings in the next two years.