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90 deaths on tracks in 10 days

Friday, October 12, 2018
By Jagruti Verma

Trespassing and being hit while crossing tracks are major causes of fatalities

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Ninety people have lost their lives on railway premises across the city in the first ten days of the tenth month of the year, according to the daily accidental death report records of the Government Railway Police (GRP).

Further, 106 people were injured. Though a fraction of the number are natural deaths, most of the victims died by either falling off the train or crossing tracks. On October 10, 13 deaths were recorded, highest for the month so far.

“The numbers reflect the condition of the victim when they are found. In some cases, the injured are dead in a few hours or the next day due to the severity of their injuries,” said a senior railway police official, describing the brutal nature of the consequences of these accidents. “Trespassing and being hit by a train while crossing tracks are major causes of fatalities,” the official added.

On the part of the railways, more efforts need to be put into controlling illegal access points and building walls along the railway tracks to reduce trespassing. “This will help in reducing crime as well as deaths,” said a railway police official. Further, the official said that there need to be more khakee-wearing personnel at entry/exit points to manage the crowds and unruly commuters.

Lack of infrastructure like foot-over-bridges is another issue. However, according to railway officials, people too need to take cognisance of the constraints and follow discipline. “Despite the announcements and advertisements, people still do stunts and travel on footboard. In worse cases, they hop between trains to switch platforms at stations like Borivali,” said a railway police official.

While commuters and railway activists alike have been asking for an increase in the number of services to curb the cases of commuters falling off the trains, according to the railway authorities, there is no scope of any significant hike. While the Western Railway is planning to increase the number by ten this November, there is very little scope for the lines run by Central Railway.

“The system has been pushed to the limit and the trains are already carrying way more than their capacity,” said a senior railway official, adding that unless there are more lines to run the trains on, nothing much can be done with the current infrastructure. Currently, work is underway to increase lines in the Thane-Diva section of Central Line and Mumbai Central-Borivali of Western Line.

Humanity first
Though the railway police is supposed to keep the body of a victim in the mortuary for seven days, they often go above and beyond to ensure that the deceased gets a proper cremation by their family members instead of police officials. “We sometimes keep the body for even a month in the hope that it will be claimed,” said a police official. However, they have to deal with a great amount of pressure from hospitals as the mortuaries are stretched to the limit and the worst case of brutally deformed bodies are those of railway accident victims. “No one is wrong, it's just that we all have our limits that are bound by rules,” the official added. However, there are days when the ray of hope turns into reality. “Once, after waiting a long time, we had decided to cremate a victim and on that very day, his family arrived to take him,” said a railway police official, adding that it was a happy day for despite the sorrow, at least the family was able to get closure and bid goodbye to him.

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