To curb the menace of passengers travelling on top of trains, the Railway Ministry has amended a 38 year old rule to empower the train guard to not allow a train to start till he or she is satisfied that nobody is on the roof.
As per the recent amendments made to the Indian Railways (Open Lines) General Rules, 1976, the “guard shall not give the signal for starting unless he is satisfied that, except in accordance with special instructions, no person is travelling in any compartment or vehicle or roof of the vehicle not intended for the use of passengers”. The words “roof of the vehicle” have been added to the rules under the latest amendments, notified recently.
In addition, the amendments now mandate that the “guard, loco pilot or assistant loco pilot shall take help, if necessary, from government railway police, railway protection force and station staff to remove unauthorised persons from the compartments or vehicle or roof of the vehicle”. This point did not exist in the rules so far.
“Railways has faced criticism for failing to prevent passengers from travelling on roof of trains. There have been a few fatal accidents in the past couple of years due to this. During statutory inquiries, the Commissioners of Railway Safety were of the view that the Railways needed to do something to tackle the problem,” a senior Rail Bhavan official told The Indian Express.
Railway officials said the ministry was also facing flak from the Commission of Railway Safety over its failure to “fix the problem”.
“During deliberations, the broad sense that emerged was that the Railways needed to fix accountability. That is why the rules have now been amended to make the guard responsible,” the official explained.
“This may lead to some trains getting delayed… but we hope the measure will prove effective,” another Rail Bhavan official said.
“It was felt that the guards were being slightly careless… With the amendments, their duties have clearly been defined,” the official added.
As per its estimates, the Railways says that between 15,000 and 18,000 people die each year across the country due to trespassing on the tracks, and falling off train foot boards and roofs.