With the recent spate of accidents haunting the operations of the local trains in the city, railway authorities have finally started taking corrective action. As a precautionary measure, the Central Railway (CR) with Railway Protection Force (RPF) have begun a drive to remove plastic and tarpaulin sheets from the slums located near the railway tracks.
Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (CR) said, “These sheets are unsafe for train operations. Hence, a joint drive was conducted by the engineering, electrical and security wings for their removal.”
The Central and Harbour lines together have over 21,000 families living alongside their tracks. “Every year, the slum inhabitants use tarpaulin sheets to protect themselves from the rain. This time, with so many incidents happening and the railways losing its good image, drives like these are being initiated,” said a senior railway official. He also added that the monsoon is a season of trial for the railways.
“When there is heavy rainfall on particularly windy days, tarpaulin sheets, which are used to cover roofs of slums, may fly off the rooftops and get tangled in overhead wires, inside the trains or the motorman’s coach. This could be dangerous and may create problems in running the train,” added the official. On an average, 4.5 million passengers travel oon the CR line every day.
The Central line from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Thane has about 8,000 families living alongside the track, the Western line from Churchgate to Dahisar has about 3,000, and the Harbour line from CST to Mankhurd around 13,000 such families.
“Not only this, families residing near the railway tracks create problems for us every season. During holi, they throw water balloons and stones at running trains,” said the railway official, adding that something should be done to remove them from the side of the tracks permanently.
The tarpaulin sheets drive has been done in the areas from CST to Badlapur, especially between Byculla and CST, Dadar and Sion, Thane and Mumbra, Withalwadi and Ulhasnagar, Mankhurd and Reay Road.
Till date, approximately 100 tarpaulin sheets have been removed. “Sometimes the owners of the slum protest, but when we explain to them the hazards they cause, they change their minds and allow us to remove the sheets,” said a staff member involved in the drive.