Mumbai: Local train-top electrocutions down by 45 per cent
Chief PRO for Western Railway says it was observed that people between ages 20 to 45 years accounted for 70 per cent of rooftop deaths, hence a special drive was conducted and schools and colleges were especially targetted
The menace of rooftop travel on suburban trains seems to have greatly reduced in the past three years. Cases of people electrocuted while travelling on top of trains have dropped by nearly 45 per cent, records show. WR officials said extensive awareness drives conducted by them in schools and colleges may have contributed to the falling numbers.
The railway might be Mumbai's lifeline, but on an average, eight people die every day on its tracks. Most of them are cases of track-crossing. If authorities are to be believed, rooftop travel is the second largest cause of railway accidents, after track-crossing.
There were 18 cases of casualties of rooftop travel on trains in Mumbai (Western and Central railway) in 2018, compared to 31 cases in 2015. With electrocution casualties going down, authorities are keeping their fingers crossed to curtail and bring down the average number of deaths too. The statistics exhibit that rooftop death numbers have gone down drastically on Central Railway (CR), and there is a marginal decline on Western Railway (WR).
There were 18 casualties of rooftop travel on trains in Mumbai in 2018. File pic
'Awareness drives helped'
Ravinder Bhakar, chief PRO for WR, claimed it was observed that people between ages 20 to 45 years accounted for 70 per cent of the rooftop deaths. "Looking at the age group involved in the mishaps, the administration started a special awareness drive, especially at school and college level, explaining students how dangerous it is to travel on rooftops or to cross tracks. This helped to a large extent in reducing the number of deaths," Bhakar said.
AC more dangerous
The conversion from 1,500 DC to 25,000 AC has just increased the capacity of the suburban network by enabling trains to run at a faster speed of 100KMPH as compared to 80KMPH, cutting down on journey time. But it has also become more dangerous for rooftop travellers, as since AC is much more powerful than DC, a person can be electrocuted within a 2 metre radius. In 2015, CR had recorded 27 rooftop casualties and WR recorded four. The number for the same in 2018 has declined to 15 and 3 cases respectively. Travelling on rooftops of trains is also a punishable offence under the Railways Act and the offenders are prosecuted.
'Drives helped reduce menace'
Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer (CR) was not available for comments. However, senior PRO Anil Kumar Jain too echoed that drives in educational institutes helped curb the menace. "Besides drives in schools and colleges, social and multimedia campaigns, action by the Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) against erring commuters has helped a lot. Our aim and efforts are on to further minimise the casualty numbers," Jain added. Despite repeated attempts to contact them, Niket Kaushik, GRP commissioner (Mumbai) and Sachin Balode, Central Railway's senior divisional security commissioner (RPF, Mumbai) were unavailable for comment.
No. of people on average who die on Mumbai's railway tracks every day
No. of rooftop casualties on Central Railway in 2018
No. of rooftop casualties on Western Railway in 2018
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