7,000 people died taking a shortcut across the train tracks in Mumbai

Thinking of taking that shortcut to get to the other side of the railway track? Think again, as it could be a fatal mistake. In the last three years, about 7,000 people died while crossing tracks on the suburban rail network in the city. Though railway officials claim that due to their many initiatives and efforts to spread awareness amongst commuters, the figure is fast falling, but such accidents still make headlines and need to be averted completely.

Mind the gap
One of the main reasons for a rise in accidents is the railway tracks dotted with slums along their edges. Slum dwellers are often seen trespassing on railway tracks in order to get from one side to the other. To identify such locations, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) Ltd will be conducting surveys on these trouble spots on both western and central lines.

Mumbai commuters crossing train tracks

Mumbai commuters crossing train tracks

“There are many locations between stations where people, especially from slums, damage the walls along the tracks and trespass on the tracks,” said P Ranjan, chief PRO, MRVC. This causes many accidents, which at times also result in deaths, he added.

MRVC plans to appoint JJ School for carrying out this study. Sources said that there are at least 20-25 such sensitive locations between Churchgate-Virar,CST-Kasara/Karjat/Khopoli and CST-Panvel lines on the suburban section. Officials claimed that it becomes difficult for motormen to salvage the situation if a trespasser springs up all of a sudden and comes under the wheels resulting in deaths. Such accidents also affect the morale of the motormen.

Under this survey, the MRVC plans to identify the areas where safety walls are broken, what substitutes can be used to create barriers along the tracks, alternatives for slum dwellers such as different routes to cross tracks with no danger involved, and permanent solution to trespassing.

Numbers talk
According to the figures obtained from Government Railway Police (GRP), stations such as Kurla, Thane, Kalyan, Wadala and Vashi have seen higher number of deaths. While on the Western line, Andheri, Borivli and Vasai see majority of deaths. These are railway stations where GRP has its police stations.

Between 2010 to May 2013, Kurla leads the death tally on the main line and the harbour line with 888 deaths, Vashi follows with 438. On the western line, Borivli has seen over 788 deaths in the last three years. However, if it’s any consolation, the total number of deaths along the suburban line has depicted a downward trend.

In 2010, about 2,152 deaths due to crossing tracks were registered, which fell to 2,023 in 2011 and came further down to 1,979 deaths in 2012. There have been 773 deaths so far in 2013.

Officials said that people tend to take a shorter route during peak hours when most foot-over-bridges (FOB) are crowded.

“As a way to escape the crowds, these people cross the tracks. At times they also come walking on to the tracks after entering the railway lines through damaged walls,” said a railway official.

Another senior railway police official said that unless the walls are fully concretised, these incidents of deaths while trespassing will continue. Among other steps taken to curb deaths and injuries due too line-crossing are through anti-trespass awareness campaigns, installation of track dividers between two parallel tracks, more FOBs at platforms and in-between stretches and construction of boundary walls. 

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