Train calamities keep rising as headlines scream Railway negligence. In the latest incident, a signal failure has resulted in overcrowding of Mumbai locals on the Central Railway tracks and three lives have been lost due to commuters hitting an electric box on a signal pole. It is a tragedy of humungous proportions and shows just how cheap human life has become in this city, and especially, on the tracks. Statistics reveal that 36,000 lives have been lost in the past 10 years on suburban railway tracks.
While it is the common tendency to blame authorities for the deaths, and surely the Railways does need to cop a share of the blame, commuters too need to introspect about those grim figures. Overcrowded trains and infrastructure, which is stretched to breaking point, will definitely lead to disasters. From shoddy announcements, to no announcements at all and erratic train schedules, there are several fingers pointing at the Railways.
Yet, there are fingers pointing at commuters too. How many times have commuters ignored warnings about crossing tracks? Even during non-peak hours, one sees commuters walking across tracks. While some say rooftop travel is a necessity because the trains are impossible to get in, there are people who travel on the roof simply because it is a lark. Hanging out of trains and traveling on footboards may be excusable when there is no option but we see this happening during non-peak hours too. With Mumbai bursting at its seams and commuter numbers only growing every year, only other modes of transport can exert some amount of control on the crush of commuters.
What people can do to mitigate these accidents is stop the heinous act of throwing stones on commuters, which is so despicable; it should be met with the strictest penalties. Stop crossing tracks and use bridges. Stop pushing when there is simply no need to and last, avoid roof top travel. The answer lies on both sides. Like they say, it is not a one-way street, or track, in this case.