Gates, guards, upgrades aim to put end to rail fatalities hinh anh 1Vietnam Railways will double efforts to reduce the growing number of rail fatalities (Illustrative image. Source: VNA)

Vietnam Railways (VNR) will assign workers to act as sentries at illegal rail crossings throughout Vietnam in an endeavour to cut down on the growing number of fatalities.

Doan Duy Hoach, Deputy Director of VNR, said the guards would be equipped with flags, lamps and mobile phones.

They would take turns to man the crossings, Hoach said. They would warn residents whenever a train approached.

The VNR is also upgrading 300 of the 6,000 railway crossings throughout the country. This is part of a process to install railway gates where there are no one - and to replace old, hand pulled gate barriers with those powered by electricity.

Two hundred and forty two railway accidents occurred in the first six months of this year, an increase of 62 cases compared with the same period last year.

A total of 109 people were killed, an increase of 24 over last year. Another 150 people were injured, an increase of 42.

The accidents caused 50 billion VND (2.2 million USD) worth of damage. Most occurred at illegal rail-road crossings.

About 75 percent of the accidents happened on the Hanoi-HCM City route.

Vietnam has nearly 6,000 road-railway crossings. Only about 1,498 of them are legal.

Hoach said the railway sector was planning to shut off all crossings and build flyovers by 2020. However, he said that 55 trillion VND (2.5 billion USD) needed for the work was not presently available.

About 90 percent of rail crossing accidents were caused by careless car drivers, Hoach said.

Some provinces are eager to get things done. Chairman of the Ha Nam People's Committee Nguyen Xuan Dong asked his province to install powered gates at all illegal crossings by the end of August.

HCM City has already invested billions of dong in setting up powered rail gates at all illegal crossings.-VNA