5,000 level crossings unguarded, causing rail accidents

Update: October, 27/2016 - 18:30
Roads built illegally to cross railway tracks in Hà Nội. - VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Around 5,000 level crossings in the country, of which 4,302 are illegal, remain unguarded and are the main cause of railway accidents, the Vietnam Railways Corporation has announced.

Latest figures from the corporation show that only 641 level crossings, which are built to cross railway tracks, are manned by its staff. The rest, including 4,302 illegally built level crossings, are only equipped with warning signals or alarms.

Đoàn Duy Hoạch, deputy director of the corporation, said to guard one level crossing round the clock, it has to employ between three and five staffers to work in rotation. The cost for guarding each level crossing station is on average VNĐ600 million (US$26,860) per year. Because of the high cost, not all stations across the country have round-the-clock staff to guard level crossings, he said.

The railway network in the country was built over a century ago and many level crossings have been built illegally since then because of the rise in the number of residential areas along rail routes, he said, adding that it is leading to more accidents.

In the first six months of 2016, around 195 railway accidents were reported, which claimed 81 lives and left 138 injured.

On Wednesday, a man was killed in Thường Tín District’s Văn Tự Commune at a level crossing that had no barriers or warning lights. The police are investigating the case.

As a solution, the transport ministry has asked the corporation to install 600 automatic barriers at level crossings by 2017. So far 100 barriers have been installed. We will continue the work when we get the budget for it, Hoạch said. — VNS