ORF study pitches for separate Suburban Railway Corporation for Mumbai

Mumbai: A study carried out by a research organization has demanded that the Mumbai suburban railway system should be developed as an independent corporation, which will have the Metro and monorail under its authority to alleviate citizens’ travel woes.

Observer Research Foundation (ORF), which carried out the study of the Mumbai suburban system, analyzed the accidents that took place on tracks either due to overcrowding or trespassing.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of ORF Mumbai, said, “Over 3,500 people die on the tracks every year. It is like repeat of the Bhopal gas tragedy year after year. The figures are a blot on Mumbai’s image.”

MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who unveiled the report, promised all support to reduce the fatalities and improve the suburban system. He said, “The reins of the railways in Maharashtra should be in the hands of state officials instead of babus in New Delhi.”

Former journalist Dhaval Desai, who carried out the research, said, “Why should Indian Railways manage the affairs of the Mumbai suburban railway, which is principally an intercity public transport services,” adding that Mumbai’s suburban railway contributes 30% of the total passenger traffic on the Indian Railways.

The report pointed out that the total number of death on tracks in 2002 was 2,799 but had risen to 3,506 in 2013. “Nearly 73% of all accidents that occured due to trespassing resulted in death. Lives can be saved by merely ensuring that commuters haven an adequate number of easily accessible and adequately wide foot-overbridges at all stations. Trespassing should be treated as a serious offence that invites strict penalty, including imprisonment.”

Former Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahai said, “The gap between the platform and the train’s footboard has widened because the track level is being raised. He said authorities need to go deep into the issue to find out if there is any need to raise the tracks, particularly after the replacement of wooden sleepers with concrete sleepers.”

Desai also pointed that the Rs 4 lakh compensation amount awarded for railway victims has to be revised.