Roads built illegally to cross railway tracks in ​Hanoi. (Photo: VNA)  

Hanoi (VNA) - Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has ordered urgent measures to increase safety at railway crossings.

His order came in the wake of a sharp spike in the number and scale of railway accidents during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

Deputy PM Binh, who also heads the National Traffic Safety Committee, sent a message to the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Public Security, chairpersons of People’s Committees and heads of traffic safety departments in provinces and cities that the railway runs through.

The message followed two severe railway accidents on February 4.

At 3.20pm on February 4, train TN1 running in the North-South direction through Vu Ban district, Nam Dinh province crashed into a 16-seat car at a crossing, killing the car’s driver on the spot and injuring five, two of them seriously and the rest three were released from hospitals on February 5.  

The same afternoon, three people were injured, one badly, when train LP5 running on the Hanoi-Hai Phong route hit a four-seat car which was crossing the railroad in Hung Yen province’s Van Lam district.

Eight traffic accidents involving the railways took place during the seven-day Tet holiday, claiming six lives and injuring 11. This marked an increase of 60 percent in the number of accidents, 100 percent in fatalities and 175 percent of injuries over the previous Tết holiday.

According to the National Traffic Safety Committee, the main cause of railway accidents is that drivers of vehicles disobey the law at crossings.

It said provincial and municipal authorities, as well as the Vietnam Railway Authority haven’t considered the problem serious enough to issue instructions, carry out inspections and push for solutions. They have also been lax in determining and dealing strictly with those responsible for railway crossing accidents, the committee said.

Deputy PM Binh has asked the Ministry of Transport (MoT) to instruct the Vietnam Railway Authority to closely work with relevant authorities of the Ministry of Public Security, as well as Nam Dinh and Hung Yen provinces to investigate the accidents on February 4 and affix responsibilities of organisations and individuals involved.

He said the MoT should work with provincial and municipal authorities to propose solutions for ensuring safety at level crossings on the whole route, including the construction of front roads, setting up barriers, and clarify the responsibilities of bodies guarding crossings throughout the route.

The ministry should continue updating detailed timetables of trains running through crossings, particularly those in and near residential areas so that local traffic safety departments can assign guards, strengthen inspections and compliance with law at level-crossings, Binh said.

He asked the Ministry of Public Security to co-ordinate with police in localities to reinforce patrols and strictly deal with violations, especially the illegal lifting of barriers.

The heads of provincial and municipal administrations as well as the heads of local traffic safety departments must develop concrete plans to eliminate illegally-established railway crossings, and appoint guards at crossings that do not have barriers, he said.-VNA