Walk on railway tracks, land in jail

Try walking on the railway tracks and you may stand a chance of being arrested and put behind the bars.

After witnessing 14 deaths on the tracks within a span of 48 hours (Saturday and Sunday), Eastern Railway (ER) has planned to clamp down on people crossing the tracks or walking along them. Under railway rules, such people are trespassers and may face a term of six months in jail and have to pay a fine of Rs 1,000.

Among those killed, 12 were in the Sealdah division and the remaining two in the Howrah division. Many of them were walking along the tracks while using their mobile phones, officials said.

“While eight people were killed on Saturday, six died on Sunday. Such deaths are unnecessary and hamper punctuality. After the matter gets reported, we can’t run trains on the affected track till the Government Railway Police (GRP) removes the body. The saddest part is that most incidents are reported close to stations where foot overbridges and underpasses exist. We have also launched an awareness campaign to stop people from using their mobile phones while crossing the tracks (even at level crossings), but there hasn’t been too much of an improvement. Now, we will have to be stricter,” said an official.

ER has launched another campaign where people will be warned of the consequences of walking along tracks. Even if they survive the trains, railway staff may haul them up and get them arrested. “If caught near foot overbridges or underpasses, the offenders will get no reprieve,” he added.

Suchitto Kumar Das, divisional railway manager, Sealdah, said, “This has become a major issue. When I took over recently, I was shocked to learn that five to six people are run over and killed on the tracks under the Sealdah Division everyday. Most of the accidents occur due to carelessness. People are so involved with their mobile phones that they can’t even hear the train horns. There is a tendency to not use the overbridges and underpasses and most cases occur near stations. A few cases do happen on the Park Circus – Ballygunge and Madhyamgram – Barasat – Birati sections where there are encroachments along the tracks. While some cases are unavoidable, we would like to prevent those that happen due to carelessness.”

Records available with the railways reveals that the ages of those who die in this manner range from teenage to the 70s. The large number of level crossing gates on the Sealdah Division may also be a reason why people prefer to cross the tracks. For the 700-odd km tracks on this division, there are 528 level crossing gates.


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