Traffic jams at railway crossings cost hundreds of crores; a Rs 20K timer can work wonders

According to an IIM, Calcutta study, traffic jams lead to a loss of Rs 1500 crore annually in wasted fuel and time

Jaipur: The railway crossings have been, at one time or the other, a nuisance or an interminable wait for all city dwellers. These gates, which are closed for 5-10 minutes at a time, have been a major cause of traffic jams in cities and a contributor to air pollution. People’s most important resource, time, also gets wasted waiting for the crossing to open.

Seven hours a day

A Bhaskar team spent three days at four railway level crossing gates across Jaipur city and found that on average 80 trains pass through the city every day. For each train to pass, the crossing remains closed for 5 minutes and up to 10 minutes at many places. Thus, the crossings are closed for an average of seven hours a day.

Timers can help

The situation can be improved with a simple solution – a timer – operated by the gatemen, to be placed at all major railway crossings that tells commuters after how many minutes the gate will open, just as it happens at traffic signals, where you know after how many seconds the signal will turn green.

Engines are not shut down

Currently, long queues of vehicles form on both sides of the crossing and people keep their engines running as the crossing may open at any moment without warning. The timer will not only help ease traffic situation in cities, it will also save people’s time. Moreover, commuters can turn off their engines for the duration the crossing will be closed and save fuel and help in decreasing pollution.

According to a report published by IIM Calcutta, India loses Rs 45,500 crores each year because of people arriving late to office and another Rs 1,01,400 crore because of burning additional fuel while stuck in traffic.

Never thought about it: Railway spokesperson

Tarun Jain, CPRO, North-Western Railways, said that the railways have not thought about the issue. The idea of installing timers is a good one. “But, we will have to conduct a detailed study to find out how it can be best implemented across the busiest crossings,” he said. Jain added that the railways will, at the same time, look into ways of reducing traffic jams at crossings.

(Story by: Shivang Chaturvedi, Bhagwan Chaudhary, Kanhaiya Haritwal)

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