|People drive on a level crossing in the central province of Ninh Thuận. Poorly constructed railroad intersections have long imposed threats of serious accidents to train and road riders in Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thành|
HÀ NỘI – The Ministry of Transport (MoT) will remove hundreds of below-standards level crossings countrywide to improve rail travel and reduce accidents.
The new regulation on level crossings and construction in railway safety is being built up by MoT.
For a long time, poor railroad intersections have threatened serious accidents to both train and road users.
Nhà Dầu level crossing on Lê Duẩn Street, for example, has seen severe congestions every day on rush hours as it is about 80cm higher than the road, obstructing the traffic influx.
Level crossings leading to headquarters of Việt Nam National Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited and Việt Nam Cement Industry Corporation suffer the same problem. Anytime a car drives through these level crossings, there will be several vehicles stuck in congestions, finding ways to get to Lê Duẩn Street.
And it is not just the level crossings with signs and automatic warning systems that have caused problems. Many with barriers have not met required standards.
The level crossing leading to Agriculture and Rural Development Bank in Phương Liệt Ward on Giải Phóng Street is trapped between two busy roads.
Since it is narrow and steep, whenever a train is approaching, watchmen always have to prevent drivers from attempting to hurtle cross barriers which may lead to tragic accidents.
Nguyễn Đào Việt Phương, head of Giáp Bát Railway Level Crossing Barrier Department, told Giao thông (Traffic) newspaper the problem is common at the intersections they manage.
Nguyễn Văn Vĩnh, deputy head of Railway Infrastructure Management Board under Việt Nam Railways (VNR), said there were more than 1,500 level crossings in the country including about 650 of them equipped with barriers, 380 with automatic warning systems and 485 with warning signs. However, up to 80 per cent of existing level crossings do not meet standards regulated by MoT, mostly due to their vision limitation and steep slopes.
According to Vĩnh, the poor cooperation between localities and the railway sector in land planning and ensuring railway traffic safety, is the main cause of the problem.
In recent years, VNR has implemented projects to upgrade level crossings, especially at more than 900 traffic accident black spots along the country.
Khương Thế Duy, deputy head of Việt Nam Railway Authority, said the regulation would touch on new standards to guarantee safe level crossings.
Speed humps will be compulsory at intersections without any watchmen. Waiting lanes and automatic barriers will also be set up while road slope will be reduced.
Responsibility of stakeholders in managing, constructing, maintaining and exploiting level crossings will also be clearly indicated.
“Local authorities will be in charge of coordinating related agencies in their railway traffic safety corridor to ensure clear vision for all vehicles passing though railroad crossings,” said Duy. – VNS