The Railway network over the state of Kerala comprises of 1045 route km and 1711 km of running track spread over three Railway Divisions of Southern Railway, viz. Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Madurai Divisions. With the closure of last unmanned level crossing located in Palakkad-Pollachi route of Palakkad Division, the State has become free of unmanned level crossings(UMLC). This is a major step in the mission taken up by the Ministry of Railways to eliminate the unmanned level crossings in the entire Indian Railways by September 2018. The last UMLC of Palakkad Division and also that in Kerala, Level Crossing No.40, located near Kinasseri between Palakkad Town and Puthunagaram Railway Stations was closed down on 01.04.2018 (today)
This level crossing was closed consequent to the construction of parallel roads on the railway land on either side of the LC and diverting road traffic to the manned level crossing No.41. In fact, It was only in February 20108 that the Level Crossing No.42 located nearby had also been closed in similar manner. Diversion to the nearest manned LC is one of the methods of eliminating the UMLCs, others being provision of Limited Use Subway(LUS) and manning the gates. In extreme cases, outright closure is also adopted where alternate route is available.
Approval of District Collector is invariably obtained for eliminating the UMLCs through any of the above alternatives. District Collector’s office, i8n turn gets the views and support of the public in this matter. As per the All India statistics, 40% of the accidents on railway network occur at unmanned level crossings. The accidents at level crossings account for nearly 60% of casualties. This is the major factor which helps motivate the district administration and the public to agree for eliminating UMLCs, even at the cost of some inconveniences, but the promise of increased safety.
Palakkad Division had eliminated all the UMLCs on Broad gauge decades ago. But the UMLCs which prevailed on Metre Gauge section added up when the section from Palakkad to Pollachi and subsequently, from Pollachi to Kinathukadavu were converted to Broad Gauge in 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively. These were the ones which have been eliminated in the last two years.
Declaring the State as defaecation-free was yet another feather in the cap of the state, which tops the country in literacy levels and other human development indices.