On Tuesday, November 18, the Government Railway Police statistics revealed that 13 people died and 13 got injured while in the train, or trying to cross the tracks. The majority of fatalities were because people were trying to cross the tracks and got mowed down by an oncoming train. In other instances, people have fallen off the trains due to overcrowding or standing on the edge of the footboard. In just one day there were 26 accidents, which is an astonishingly high number. The majority of commuters who lost their lives were in their 20s and 30s.
Railway authorities make regular announcements about why one should not cross the tracks, and the awareness and advocacy is on the uptick. Yet, for a variety of reasons, we see people defying orders and common sense wisdom and crossing tracks at will. For some, the Foot Over Bridge (FOB) is too far, or too crowded. For others, it is simply a matter of convenience. Why climb when you can cross? It is also the heady and often misplaced confidence of youth, which makes them sure that they would be able to cross the tracks without injury.
One cannot put the blame on the Railways. Even though FOBs may be inconvenient, they are present and people need to use them rather than risk life and limb by crossing tracks. Strict fines for crossing tracks may be one way to deter people, but in the end, it is the commuter who has to take responsibility for his life. Overcrowded trains also result in people hanging on for dear life, at the footboard. Missing crowded trains is one way to tackle this, but one realises that the commuter does not always have an option.
One can only advocate caution when getting into a crowded train. Other commuters, if possible must show some compassion by making at least some room for those hanging outside.
Railway stations and trains are dangerous, not in themselves but because of the sheer numbers commuting. Demand does outstrip supply. For these very reasons, commuters have to do all they can to mitigate risks to themselves. Like the authorities say, the rule is ours but the life is yours.