Hyderabad: South Central Railways has booked 21,231 violators and collected about Rs 50 lakh as penalty from people who have trespassed on to tracks over the last two years. As per the Railways Act, trespassers are either punished with six months of imprisonment or levied a fine of Rs 1,000.
In the backdrop of the death of 61 people on the railway track near Amritsar, a railway officer said the Railway Protection Force usually does ambush checks at the random railway crossings.
Dozens of people die when they are hit by trains while crossing the tracks. They are usually listening to music from their headphones and cannot hear the approaching train.
Besides, at manned level crossings, unruly motorists do not heed approaching trains and try to sneak past even when the gates are closed. A recent viral video showed how motorists kept crossing the tracks even though a train was approaching.
The situation is worse at unmanned crossings. Section 131 of the Motor Vehicle Act states that drivers approaching an unguarded railway level crossing should stop the vehicle, walk up to the level crossing and ensure that no train is approaching from either side.
Sources said this is rarely followed. Drivers tend to speed over the level crossing even when a speeding train is in sight and approaching the gates. This has resulted in many avoidable tragedies, especially involving school buses.
As of now there are around 17 unmanned level crossings in the South Central zones, mainly in Nanded and Guntakal division. The authorities are planning to eliminate all those in next couple of months.
Calling for stricter vigilance on the tracks, Mr Suresh V., a rights activist, said, people drive their vehicles at a level crossing without paying attention to anything else.
“They are always in a hurry, and there is nobody to stop. How will anyone gets punished for flouting rules if there are no officials to catch them, he said. “The government talks about introducing more trains. But there are hardly any staff to take care of the gates that are already there.”
The railway is overcoming this by posting personnel at all level crossings so that there is a vigil at all times, an official said....