HCM CITY — The Viet Nam Railway Corporation has set itself a target of reducing the number of accidents, deaths, and injuries by 10 per cent this year, and preventing fatal accidents at level crossings caused by road users' negligence.
Speaking at a conference held in Ha Noi yesterday, Pham Van Binh, head of the Railway Safety Committee, said, 96.4 per cent of railway accidents were caused by the negligence of road users.
"Other accidents are caused by poor infrastructure at level crossings," he added.
According to statistics from the Viet Nam Railway Corporation, 85 per cent of all accidents occur at level crossings that lack barriers, alarm systems, or guards.
Nguyen Dat Tuong, general director of the corporation, said there were more than 1,400 authorised level crossings and nearly 5,000 unauthorised ones.
While on average there is a crossing every 400 metres, in some places like Ha Noi and Ha Nam and Nam Dinh provinces, they are just 100 metres apart.
Around 86 per cent of the 1,400 level crossings did not meet safety standards prescribed in railway regulations, Tuong revealed. And things were much worse at the unauthorised ones.
Accidents were also caused by a low sense of responsibility among local residents, Tuong said, pointing out that at many places they got rid of the barriers to cross the tracks.
Tuong said to effectively fix the problem, the railways, traffic inspectors, and the police need to work closely.
The corporation has ordered the Railway Safety Committee to work with local authorities to ensure safety at level crossings.
Train engineers have been ordered to blow their horns for longer on foggy days when passing through densely populated areas.
Tuong also said guards had to be posted at all crossings, and the public should scrupulously obey safety laws.
Deputy Minister of Transport Le Manh Hung ordered the railways to set up danger lights and alarms at more points.
He also asked it to consider slowing down trains between Ha Noi and Nam Dinh Province and speed them up in the central region which is less densely populated.
According to Binh, around 500 rail accidents occurred last year, 14.2 per cent higher than in 2010, killing 271 people and injuring 353, with only 16 attributable to railway staff.
The rest were caused by poor railway infrastructure and the carelessness of drivers and other road users, he said. — VNS