7,000 people died taking a shortcut across the train tracks in Mumbai

Thinking of taking that shortcut to get to the other side of the railway track? Think again, as it could be a fatal mistake. In the last three years, about 7,000 people died while crossing tracks on the suburban rail network in the city. Though railway officials claim that due to their many initiatives and efforts to spread awareness amongst commuters, the figure is fast falling, but such accidents still make headlines and need to be averted completely.

Mind the gap
One of the main reasons for a rise in accidents is the railway tracks dotted with slums along their edges. Slum dwellers are often seen trespassing on railway tracks in order to get from one side to the other. To identify such locations, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) Ltd will be conducting surveys on these trouble spots on both western and central lines.

“There are many locations between stations where people, especially from slums, damage the walls along the tracks and trespass on the tracks,” said P Ranjan, chief PRO, MRVC. This causes many accidents, which at times also result in deaths, he added.

MRVC plans to appoint JJ School for carrying out this study. Sources said that there are at least 20-25 such sensitive locations between Churchgate-Virar,CST-Kasara/Karjat/Khopoli and CST-Panvel lines on the suburban section. Officials claimed that it becomes difficult for motormen to salvage the situation if a trespasser springs up all of a sudden and comes under the wheels resulting in deaths. Such accidents also affect the morale of the motormen.

Under this survey, the MRVC plans to identify the areas where safety walls are broken, what substitutes can be used to create barriers along the tracks, alternatives for slum dwellers such as different routes to cross tracks with no danger involved, and permanent solution to trespassing.

Numbers talk
According to the figures obtained from Government Railway Police (GRP), stations such as Kurla, Thane, Kalyan, Wadala and Vashi have seen higher number of deaths. While on the Western line, Andheri, Borivli and Vasai see majority of deaths. These are railway stations where GRP has its police stations.

Between 2010 to May 2013, Kurla leads the death tally on the main line and the harbour line with 888 deaths, Vashi follows with 438. On the western line, Borivli has seen over 788 deaths in the last three years. However, if it’s any consolation, the total number of deaths along the suburban line has depicted a downward trend.

In 2010, about 2,152 deaths due to crossing tracks were registered, which fell to 2,023 in 2011 and came further down to 1,979 deaths in 2012. There have been 773 deaths so far in 2013.

Officials said that people tend to take a shorter route during peak hours when most foot-over-bridges (FOB) are crowded.

“As a way to escape the crowds, these people cross the tracks. At times they also come walking on to the tracks after entering the railway lines through damaged walls,” said a railway official.

Another senior railway police official said that unless the walls are fully concretised, these incidents of deaths while trespassing will continue. Among other steps taken to curb deaths and injuries due too line-crossing are through anti-trespass awareness campaigns, installation of track dividers between two parallel tracks, more FOBs at platforms and in-between stretches and construction of boundary walls.


Published in: on July 27, 2013 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Port to develop rail infrastructure

V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust is set to develop its rail infrastructure.

With Hare Island identified as the site for creating a cargo storage facility exclusively for berths (North Cargo Berths II, III and IV), efforts have been stepped up to develop rail connectivity from the existing marshalling yard to Hare Island at an estimated cost of Rs.70 crore, according to S. Natarajan, Chairman of the Port.

The project would involve laying tracks, signals, telecommunications and electrification. Work is expected to commence from November and will be completed by May 2015.

“Currently, around 70 per cent of cargo handled by the port is imported and evacuation is carried out mostly by road. The cargo moved by rail included industrial coal, pet coke, lime stone, MoP, urea and other containerised goods. But the total cargo movement by rail is only 3.5 per cent resulting in heavy congestion in evacuation by road. Hence, there is a necessity to augment railway infrastructure,” Mr. Natarajan said.

He added that a railway track from the Port marshalling yard to the VOC wharf would be modernised at an estimated cost of Rs.16.73 crore.

Work was expected to commence from September and the project would be completed by May 2014.

In addition, a 11.30-kilometre track between Milavittan and the Port marshalling yard will be strengthened at an estimated cost of Rs. 3.34 crore.


Photos of Kalka-Shimla rail track on display in city

Sanjay Kaushal and Shubh Mohan Singh have travelled the rail journey between Kalka and Shimla several times, and the result is From Earth to Sky, a photographic journey of the Kalka-Shimla railway track, which is being exhibited at the Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16, Chandigarh till April 21.

Some seen and many unseen aspects of this journey, places, people, stations is what the two travel enthusiasts and shutterbugs have been able to capture in the 58 photographs.

Kalra, who works with an insurance company and Singh, a psychiatrist by profession, have spent most of their weekends and holidays rambling in the hills and soaking in the silence, beauty and timelessness of this track, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

While Kalra walked and photographed his way from Kalka to Shimla, Singh confesses he was more laidback. But both have strived to capture every mood and nuance of this journey, without being encumbered by nostalgia or clichés.

The starting point or ‘The Arrival’ is a serene shot of dawn in the Kalka Railway Station. A picture of Loco 706, a coach on the track, men at work on the track to ensure a smooth journey and KC520, one of the oldest steam engines running to date gives a glimpse of the spirit of the trip.

What makes the exhibition absorbing is the effort that has gone into incorporating the landscape, life and people on the stations and tracks.

There are as many as 20 stations between Kalka and Shimla, and the photographs give a glimpse of how time stands still here. Quaint, silent, green, clean, unaffected by machines, the photographers admit you can spend hours here.

The halts, vendors, passengers, rain, snow, wind.they come alive in the photographs. “The staff is so polite and friendly, and the railways employees went out of their way to guide us about train timings to where a better camera angle can be found. This exhibition is a tribute to them,” reflect the two.

The train on bride 226, a photograph capturing the terrace farms, a view of the station from the Barog station verandah, a small tea stall at Dharampur, a black and white depicting people huddling for warmth as the mist envelops the train, a snapshot of the proud Prabhu Dyal Singh, a loco pilot on his day of retirement….this journey through the lens of Kaushal and Singh inspires you to book a ticket


Soon, machine that can lay 1-km railway track each day

For the first time, the Indian Railways is planning to utilise track-laying machines that would help put in place one kilometre of railway lines each day.

Offered by US-based Harsco Rail, the machine would be first used for laying tracks on the 66-kilometre New Kawadia-Durgapur section of India’s eastern freight corridor — scheduled for inauguration in December 2013.

Costing Rs. 70 crore, the model is being imported on a trial basis by the Ferrovia Trans Rail Solutions Private Limited. The JV was awarded the Rs. 156 crore contract for building tracks on the New Kawadia-Durgapur section. The first set of the track-laying machines is expected to arrive by December.

“This technology will mean a generational jump in rail track construction systems, and will help overcome labor issues,” said RK Gupta, managing director of the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL).

Given the huge potential for laying rail tracks in India, these machines are expected to be in huge demand in coming years

At present, it takes approximately 10 days — besides nearly 3,000 labourers — to lay a kilometre of railway track through the use of semi-mechanised methods.

Concrete Railway Sleepers are Environment-friendly

A new study has determined that if concrete is used in the production of deteriorating cross ties in railroads, they would emit six times less CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions than those made from wood.

Cross ties, also known as railway sleepers, are those rectangular objects that are used as a base for railroad tracks.

In the study, Robert Crawford from the University of Melbourne, points out that there have been long-standing concerns about environmental consequences of manufacturing railway sleepers because it involves harvesting large amounts of timber.

“Reinforced concrete sleepers are an alternative that offer greater strength, durability and long-term cost savings,” he said.

Critics of using concrete sleepers have charged that their manufacture increases greenhouse gas emissions as it involves higher consumption of fuel when compared to production of wood sleepers.

Crawford studied the greenhouse gas emissions of wooden and reinforced concrete sleepers based on one-kilometer (0.62 miles) length of track over a 100-year life cycle.

He found that emissions from reinforced concrete sleepers can be from two to six times lower than those from timber.

“The results suggest strongly that reinforced concrete sleepers result in lower life cycle greenhouse emissions than timber sleepers,” according to the researchers.