​Misplaced traffic lights at level crossings imperil drivers in Ho Chi Minh City

Motorbike riders have to stop right on several railroad crossings to wait at traffic signals

Motorcycle riders are seen at a level crossing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Traffic signals have been inappropriately positioned at a couple of level crossings in Ho Chi Minh City for many years, endangering the lives of drivers waiting at red lights at the spots.

Vietnam’s Railway Authority, the national agency on railway traffic, has found two train crossings where drivers have to stop their vehicles at traffic lights right on the railroad in the southern metropolis.  

A case in point is an urban railroad crossing in Thu Duc District along Pham Van Dong Boulevard, a major road leading to Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Railway workers here usually go to great lengths to lower boom barriers before a train approaches while many motorcycle riders awaiting a green light are still on the level crossings.

“The traffic lights’ location poses a huge danger, as things will be very bad if a waiting motorcycle has an engine failure while the train is coming,” a railroad employee at the level crossing said.

He added that multiple people once had to hurriedly move the goods carried by a woman’s motorcycle after her vehicle toppled on the railway, amidst the loud horn sound of an oncoming train.

Nguyen Thi Kim Thoa, a pedestrian, said that a train was forced to halt due to traffic trapped on the level crossing.

Vehicles wait for a train to pass in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Vehicles wait for a train to pass in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Railway Authority urgently ordered a safer arrangement of traffic signals at the two troublesome crossings in Ho Chi Minh City to preempt accidents.

The traffic lights there will be relocated within this month, underlined Vo Khanh Hung, deputy director of the municipal Department of Transport.

He said that those at many other railroad crossings in the city also present danger to traffic.

For the time being, the department is diverting traffic to reduce the volume through the above Pham Van Dong level crossing, but as a long-term solution, it said a tunnel may be built in place of the intersection.

Ho Chi Minh City has a 14-kilometer-long railroad line which runs through five of its densely populated districts and has 26 level crossings.

Five of them have automatically operated boom barriers while the others manually operated ones.

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