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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crossing tracks led to most railway deaths

58% Died While Trespassing, 21% Fell Off Trains

Mumbai: Going by the statistics provided by the Government Railway Police, 58% of the people killed in railway mishaps were run over by trains while trying to take a short-cut across tracks so far this year. 
    While trespassing is the reason behind the deaths of 1,279 people of the total toll of 2,207 till August, 21% people died after falling off trains. Many youths performing stunts on the footboard of locals also die, either by losing balance and falling or hitting their heads against the poles along the tracks. The solution, say officials, is to increase the carrying capacity of trains and improve infrastructure like foot overbridges and subways. "We have launched a website, 'Shodh', to help relatives of unidentified victims and missing persons. But the larger aim is to provide empirical data to the railways so that the officials can find an engineering solution. This is not a policing problem alone," says GRP commissioner Prabhat Kumar. 
    The stretch from Kurla to Mulund witnessed the highest number of deaths due to trespassing (176) and commuters falling off trains (68) this year. The Kalyan section—Kalyan to Badlapur and to Kasara—came second with the numbers touching 145 and 48 respectively. 
    According to the RPF, most accidents caused due to crossing tracks, occur during morning and evening rush hours. "A foolproof measure to stop passengers from taking short-cuts across tracks and instead, making them avail of FOBs and subways is to build boundary walls and put up fences, which the high court directed in 2004. But the Western and Central railways are yet to complete the constructions," said activist Sameer Zaveri. "At some stations, the FOBs are narrow and moreover, a large part of it is occupied by hawkers. That leaves very little space for commuters to walk by, 
leading to overcrowding. So, some opt to walk across tracks." 
    To curb such practices, the RPF on the Western Railway conducted an analysis of railway stretches from where the maximum number of railway accidents was reported and their timings. "We zeroed in on 10 locations and started deputing our personnel at those spots since February. The presence of policemen stationed at those spots discouraged trespassing and led to a drop in those mishaps," said a senior officer. 
    To stop youngsters from performing stunts, which often lead to their deaths or grievous injuries, the RPF on the Central Rail
way launched a campaign in schools where pamphlets with graphic images of victims were circulated. They also talked about the punishments that have been awarded to youths performing stunts. "Chapters on rail safety need to be inculcated in the curriculum at the school level itself," an official suggested. 
    Students from JJ School of Architecture recently identified critical spots for the railways where escalators, FOBs and elevators could come up. The multicrore project, to be implemented by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, has received a nod from the state but is awaiting the ministry of finance's approval.


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