RPF gives track death lessons at schools, colleges

To curb trespassing, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) on the Western line has drawn up a list of chronic spots and launched a lecture series in schools and colleges located around it. The aim, say officials, is not only to make youths aware of the danger involved, but also to ensure that they go home and dissuade their parents from taking a short cut across the tracks.

According to GRP statistics, 1,447 were killed due to trespassing of the total 2,551 accidental deaths on railway lines till September this year, which comes to 57%.

“The chronic locations are Jogeshwari, Kandivli, Khar, Mahim, Virar, Nalasopara, Dadar and Elphinstone Road stations. In several instances, commuters, particularly youngsters who plug in earphones while walking have lost lives unable to hear the motorman honking,” said a RPF official. “Hopping across tracks to change platforms or jumping over track dividers is observed routinely. To discourage this, we decided to start a series of lectures in schools and colleges. We feel if youngsters are convinced, a bulk of the problem is solved.”

The series began earlier this week. RPF personnel visit institutions and get in touch with the management. At least two personnel equipped with data and facts present the lecture. Transport experts say that more infrastructure projects which will provide alternate and quicker transportation are needed. The RPF also sought GRP help for the drive.

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WR to deploy private guards to secure tracks

More than 36,000 people have died on the city’s railway tracks in the last decade, 24,000 of them dying because of trespassing. Western Railway, where 15,000 of the deaths have occurred (over 10,700 due to trespassing) in the same period, has now decided to deploy private security guards at the most accident-prone spots along its suburban tracks. The rationale is not only to save lives, but also to save the crores that WR pays in compensation to accident victims annually.

WR is working on a proposal to hire a private security firm for the purpose. A senior WR official said, “We have been paying Rs 15-16 crore in compensation to accident victims annually (the amount includes sums given to the next of kin of deceased individuals and victims who receive injuries). Comparatively, the cost of hiring say 100 private security guards for patrolling our tracks on a 60-km stretch (Churchgate-Virar) will cost no more than Rs 60 lakh a year.”

Apart from preventing people from crossing tracks, the guards would also be responsible for taking accident victims to ambulances, making timely medical aid available to them. “The arrangement will save money as well as lives,” the official said.

WR’s chief public relations officer Sharat Chandrayan said, “Trespassing has come down since we started deploying Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel along the tracks. We are thinking of deploying private guards so that RPF personnel can concentrate more on tasks like protecting railway assets.” In February, WR deployed 150-200 RPF personnel and home guards at accident-prone spots in Dadar, Khar, Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Kandivli, Borivli, Nalasopara, Virar and Bhayander.

Deaths on tracks also affect the punctuality of services. “If trespassing is checked, it will help resolve this problem as well,” the official said.

“There are 89 foot over bridges (FOBs) and seven subways at WR’s suburban stations. Commuters should use these instead of crossing tracks,which is illegal anyway. Sixteen more FOBs are planned in Kandivli, Goregaon, Malad, Naigaon, Virar, Jogeshwari, Lower Parel, Dadar, Vile Parle and Matunga. The added infrastructure will be in vain if commuters stick to old habits.”

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Published in: on August 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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