SATURDAYS WITNESSED the highest number of railway accidents involving commuters between January and July on the Central Railway, a study done by railway officials has found. It also highlighted that there is no significant drop in trespassing-related deaths or trespassing cases observed during off-peak days, mainly Saturdays and Sundays. According to a three-year study undertaken by the railways to find out patterns in repeated incidences of railway-related accidents, weekends which witness thinner crowds on the suburban section of trains showed no significant dip in number of accidents. Ignorance among outstation commuters or visitors to the city about the suburban section of the railway and failure to use alternative methods of crossing tracks were the reasons cited by officials.
“One can safely presume that such accidents could largely be caused due to carelessness among commuters of using the required facilities and it is not just a matter due to overcrowding. An increase in numbers of such accidents hints at casual holiday travellers being affected most as they tend to be less watchful of the same,” said a senior Central Railway official concerned with safety.
According to official statistics received, there were 350 cases witnessed on Saturdays while 306 cases of railway accidents witnessed on Sundays between January and July this year on the Central Railway. Among the months, 110 cases were witnessed in July, 105 cases in May, while June and April witnesses 103 cases each.
“The figures hint at peak tourists months between May-July witnessing the major railway-related accidents. A larger influx of tourists often come to the city for various reasons during this period. Neglect of the suburban local situation could be one of the reasons,” an official added.
Relatives of victims staying outside Mumbai have blamed poor infrastructure and neglect by the authorities in taking action on time. While some of them are still recuperating, they say it has not been easy for them to cope up.
“My father lost his life due to the inefficient infrastructure of railway stations and improper security provisions in place. Be it the edge of platforms or even the foot-board space, no safety measure is in place. Even after so many incidences, they do not learn their lessons,” said Shoeb Khan, son of Abdul Gani Khan, who lost his life at Dadar station after falling from the train in January 2016. The Nashik-based family had come to Mumbai for a function.
Similarly, family members of a Pune resident Sayali Damdhere, who lost her leg in October this year after slipping into the gap between the railway platform and the Indrayani Express in Mumbai, are helping the girl recuperate from the tragic accident.
“Sayali was preparing for civil services. She is still in hospital while her family members are trying to help her recuperate from the loss. It was a tragic incident for sure,” one of her family members said.
The railway authorities have tried to work through a range of options which can lessen over-crowding and reduce cases of commuters falling from trains. Dynamic pricing model, more foot-over bridges, raising platform heights and installing automatic door closing system coaches have been some of the methods.
The study also states Kalyan, Thane, Kurla and Dadar stations recording the highest number of railway-related accidents and deaths. The study also hints at major cases taking place at vulnerable locations, like at the end of platforms.
“Though platform height remains one of the major goals for railways, hardly two-three people are seen working on the completion of the work every day. Railways are insensitive towards the need of passengers and severity of this issue. It is high time more money is pumped up to make the system safer for people,” said Vandana Sonawane, member of Railway Mahila Pravasi Sanghatana.