After Amritsar Tragedy, Railway Police pitches for Fencing Tracks. The proposal was made during a meeting of the Heads of Government Railway Police (GRP), which is a state police force responsible for maintaining law and order in the railways, from 21 states.
NEW DELHI: Learning some lessons from the recent tragic rail incident in Amritsar, local railway security forces will soon identify some crucial trespassing points coming under city limits, and put up a board mentioning the railway action plan to make passers-by aware about the threat to their lives if they cross the railway tracks arbitrarily.
Local railway authorities have also submitted a written letter to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials deputed at the local level to take stern action against people organizing religious congregations alongside rail tracks coming under the city’s jurisdiction in order to overcome any untoward situation. Sources in the railway department said lack of manpower in the railways is one of major reasons people can openly flout norms and organize a function along the railway track. To ensure public safety, security forces can only put up a notice board warning people against crossing rail lines in a casual manner.
Pawan Vashist, in-charge of Railway Protection Force (RPF), Ludhiana, said: “An action plan will be made soon to identify some crucial points where trespassing usually happens, and an alert board mentioning penalties for flouting safety norms will be put up.” Ludhiana railway station director Abhinav Singla said: “A meeting was held with security forces, asking them to take required measures in ensuring railway lines must be clear all the time so that in future, an Amritsar-like incident does not take place in a city area.”
As regards Western Railway, from stone walls and iron fence to concrete walls — everything is being tried to prevent people from crossing tracks instead of taking FOB. In the melee, lives are lost, yet no lesson is learnt. The rail authorities claim that they are constructing boundary walls made of cement, hoping that these would not be broken down by the illegal settlers staying along the tracks.
The Western Railway is constructing a 123-km boundary wall between Churchgate and Dahanu Road. As of now 93-km of the wall has been constructed. “These walls, however, would not come up on stretches crossing mangroves and creeks,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway. The total cost of the project is Rs 13 crore.
The Central Railway, on the other hand, has completed work on 35 km on various stretches.
The biggest problem here is the illegal encroachers who stay along the tracks. The rail authorities blame them for breaking these walls and creating gaps which are then used for trespassing. Several drives have been conducted to remove these encroachments. However, due to lack of political will (most of the encroachments are vote banks for political parties), the drives have proved to be futile.
The passenger associations feel that the political parties should rather come together in spreading awareness against trespassing and crossing tracks. There are children who even play along the tracks. “These are avoidable deaths. Despite foot over bridges, escalators and lifts people prefer dangerous shortcuts,” said Madhu Kotian, president of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation is also constructing boundary walls at a cost of Rs 43 crore under MUTP-3. These are part of trespass control measures and are not a part of the Railways’ project. Trespassing near level crossing gates is another problem that has to be registered.
For this, the railways are constructing foot over bridges as well. After the Elphinstone Road (now Prabhadevi) stampede tragedy, the rail authorities are building 9-10 FOBs annually. The WR aims to complete 33 more FOBs while CR claims to complete 40 more FOBs within a year. Apart from stations, these FOBs shall be built at mid-sections too.
While the meeting of the heads of the Government Railway Police takes place every year, they last met in 2016, the official said.
This year, until September, 1,20,923 people were arrested and prosecuted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) for intruding the railway system.
Under Section 147 of Indian Railway Act, a total fine of Rs. 2.94 crore was imposed on them by courts during the period, according to data provided by the railways.
Last year, 1,75,996 people were arrested and prosecuted by the RPF for trespassing the railway system and a fine of Rs. 4.35 crore was imposed on them.
Last year, the railways was considering a proposal to build concrete walls along crowded tracks not just to stop trespassing but also to keep the tracks clean. The plan is, however, yet to materialise, primarily because of lack of funds, sources said.
Trespassing Railway Tracks – Caution Orders issued
South Central Railway holds priority to Safety of rail users and the public as foremost. Every effort is made to discourage rail users, general public from indulging in any practice detrimental to their individual safety, including trespassing of Railway tracks.
The following precautions will ensure safety of the Rail users/General Public
- Do not trespass railway tracks at Railway stations or in mid-section. Make use of Foot Over Bridges, Subways, Road Over/Under Bridges, Rail crossings etc. to cross railway tracks.
- Do not use mobile phones, while walking near to railway tracks or while boarding/alighting the trains.
- Do not gather or indulge in any activity or in the vicinity of railway tracks.
- Do not indulge in any form of photography including taking selfies in the vicinity of railway tracks.
- Do not stand on the foot board of trains or on the edge of platforms. Do not board/alight trains on the wrong side at Railway stations.
- Do not board/alight a running train or crowd the entrance of the coach, which happens the movement of other passengers.
It shall also be noted that any person found trespassing the Railway track will be liable for prosecution under section 147 of the Railways Act, 1989 which entails punishment with imprisonment for a term up to six months, or with fine Rs.1000/- (One thousand rupees) or both.