Safety drive fails to better railway's track record

There have been 116 accident cases on Central and Western Railway since January 1, including the period when this drive was on

Some things never change. Government Railway Police (GRP) has discovered this with its safety drive that ended on Saturday.

Quick fix: A commuter sneaks through a narrow opening on platform
no 5 at Dadar station. Pic/Nimesh Dave

According to figures provided by the department, there have been 116 cases of accidents on Central and Western railway since the beginning of this year. The drive kicked off on January 2.

Out of the total figure, 57 accident cases proved fatal, while the rest of the people suffered injuries. Sources in GRP said that 26 mishaps occurred on the very first day of the year, in which 15 people died and 11 were injured.

On an average, 12 people are involved in rail accidents every day due to crossing tracks, falling from a running train, being hit by poles while standing dangerously on the footboard and rooftop travelling.

"It is really shocking to see so many people losing their lives or risking it through their acts," said Madhu Kotian, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.

Danger zones
There are locations like Borivli, Kurla, Mumbra, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Wadala and Kalyan where people meet with accidents quite frequently.

A senior railway police official attributed this to high density of passengers at these stations apart from slum dwellers who tend to illegally cross tracks.

Commuter-activist Samir Zaveri, who has been following cases of deaths and injuries on tracks said, "On an average every year over 3700 people are involved in railway accidents and the administration should take cognizance of it."

Looking at the current situation, the railways are identifying places where boundary walls are damaged and are repairing them. People prepared to gamble with their lives tend to demolish parts of the walls for engineering shortcuts.

Many people are also seen jumping over the boundary wall or coming out of huts and shanties built close to the tracks.

"We plan to build 7-feet plus boundary walls across the entire stretch," said a Western railway official.

Authorities have also attempted pasting posters illustrating a man coming underneath the wheels of a train - with his face displaying extreme anguish - only to deter trespassers.

Losing the train of thought?
4,866: No of deaths occurred under CR's Kurla station's jurisdiction
4,217: No of deaths occurred place under WR's Borivli station's jurisdiction

116: Total accident cases in the city in the first week of Jan
57: Number of people who died on tracks
59: Number of people who were injured in rail accidents

Railway officials speak
Central and Western Railway officials claim they are taking every safety precaution possible. V Malegaonkar, chief PRO, Central railway said, "We are vigorously working on bringing down the number of deaths to zero. We are constructing foot overbridges at various stations and installing steel fences between tracks from CST-Kurla to prevent trespassing."

Meanwhile, 40 foot and road overbridges have been sanctioned on the 60-km Churchgate and Virar stretch. S Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western railway said, "We are carrying out several awareness campaigns and constant announcements advising people to avoid illegally crossing tracks and rooftop travel. However, the buck stops with the commuter who continues to risk his life by crossing tracks at the wrong moment or dangerously leaning out of the train".

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