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Speed up installation of ‘humps’ at railway-crossings


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Another tragedy has occurred, this time at Hindeniya rail-crossing at Veyangoda. It is reported that despite the presence of a bell and light warning system, the vehicle driver has negligently driven his vehicle to disaster.

This tragedy again points to the fact that negligence overrides high-cost technical solutions such as barrier gates and bell and light warning systems. Constructing overhead bridges for motor vehicles at rail crossings is a very costly solution.

Readers will recall that a simple, low cost and an effective proposal sent by me in the form of installing speed-breakers (humps) on both sides of rail crossings appeared in both Sinhala and English press in the month of July 2013. Though belated, the Railway Dept. started responding to it and by May 2017 they were reported to have installed 111 ‘humps’. It is unfortunate that Hindeniya rail crossing was not protected by ‘humps’ which surely would have averted this tragic accident.

In this regard it is pertinent to quote a villager from Wanwasala (where another tragedy occurred some time ago) who said: “No one can rely on that bell. Sometimes when it rains heavily it rings continuously until someone fixes it. Vehicles with their shutters closed and the radio on, wouldn’t hear it on most occasions. This again proves the inherent drawbacks of technical solutions as well as their inability to adequately warn the motorists who sometimes are really negligent as also in the case of Batuwatte.”

Imposing heavy fines can no doubt mitigate this problem.

However, the best option is to speed up the installation of specially painted ‘humps’ with warning signals at all rail-crossings. Motorists in Sri Lanka are well used to slowing-down or stopping their vehicles on seeing a road-breaker and we have hardly witnessed accidents caused by road-breakers. It is admitted that road-breakers are not feasible at all railway crossings, particularly at those where sharp bends are encountered.

I fervently hope that  the authorities will take prompt steps to speed up the installation of  low-cost, quick to construct and effective road-breakers also known as ‘sleeping policemen’ in order to prevent these unfortunate accidents in the future.

Bernard Fernando,

Moratuwa.


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