|A mini-van that was hit by a train at a crossing near the Ghềnh Bridge in Đồng Nai Province. Three died and five others were injured in the accident that happened on February 1. – VNA/VNS Công Phong|
HÀ NỘI – Installing speed bumps and increasing the number of guards at rail crossings are among measures to reduce the number of railway accidents.
The measures were proposed at a meeting held on Monday by the Transport Ministry following a sharp increase in the number of railway accidents during the week-long Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday that ended last week.
The Việt Nam Railways Corporation (VR) reported that in just seven days (January 26 to February 1) eight railway accidents claimed six lives and injured 11. This was an increase of 60 per cent in the number of accidents, 100 per cent in fatalities and 175 per cent in the number of injured compared to the holiday last year.
From January 1 to February 4, there were 43 railway accidents nationwide in which 19 people died and 38 were injured.
Officials attending the meeting urged that speed bumps are installed at all rail crossings by the end of year, and to increase the number of guards at particularly accident-prone crossings.
Vũ Tá Tùng, director of VRC, said localities should assign people to guard such areas round-the-clock, otherwise they would become a “trap”.
“People often assume that there are always people guarding crossings. When there is no one there, they will relax and assume that there is no train coming, which can lead to accidents,” Tùng said.
According to Tùng, 20 provinces with rail routes have organised to have guards at 183 accident hotspots using provincial budget funds. However, 13 other provinces have not done so.
Khương Thế Duy, deputy head of the Việt Nam Railway Authority, pointed out that some provinces like Yên Bái, Quảng Nam and Thái Nguyên “have done almost nothing” on this issue due to financial difficulties.
In other cases, although provinces have assigned guards at existing crossings, they have failed to stop local residents from illegally setting up new ones.
“For example, there were 26 new crossings illegally opened by local residents in Hà Nam Province in 2016,” he said.
Acknowledging the complexity and severity of railway accidents during the recent Tết holiday, Deputy Miniter of Transport Nguyễn Ngọc Đông asked VR to find concrete solutions for each accident hotspot and route with high traffic flow.
He also asked VR to work with localities and reach agreements on guarding level crossings.
Besides, it should also implement technical solutions like installing convex mirrors, increasing intensity of light signals in locomotives and crossings to make them more noticeable, he said.
“In the long term, measures should be taken to eliminate illegal crossings, devices like automatic barriers should be added to prevent accidents, and the content related to railway traffic in car driving manuals and testing programmes, especially for commercial drivers, should be enhanced,” he said. – VNS