मुंबई Mumbai: A new study has identified 20 spots between railway stations that see a high number of trespassers, who not only endanger their lives by crossing tracks, but also compromise rail safety.
The spots have been identified on the Western Railway’s suburban network (WR) and on the Central Railway’s (CR), including on Harbour and Trans-Harbour Lines. Three of the sites – Matunga-Mahim, Jogeshwari-Goregaon and Thane-Kalwa – see dozens of deaths linked to trespassing every year.
The study was commissioned by Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), an Indian Railways subsidiary that works to improve suburban networks, and conducted by students of Sir JJ School of Arts and Architecture.
It is part of a Rs 120-crore ‘trespasscontrol’ project funded by the World Bank. The project, first proposed in 2010, was formally launched by Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge on October 27 last year.
It seeks to not only identify problem areas along tracks, but also build new infrastructure such as pedestrian bridges to discourage people to cross tracks. On an average, more than 4,000 Mumbai commuters die every year and an equal number get injured after either falling off crowded trains or getting run over on tracks.
“It is widely believed that trespassing happens mostly at stations when people cross the tracks to get from one platform to another. However, this study assessed trespassing patterns between stations,” a senior MRVC official said. “We have found that a number of casualties occur between two sets of stations that are close to each other or have housing societies and slum settlements nearby.”
Many people who live in colonies or hutments along tracks cross the rails to get to stations or return home. They pose a serious risk to rail safety. Of the three said sites, Thane-Kalwa stretch witnesses on an average 34 deaths a year, while 33 casualties are reported between Jogeshwari and Goregaon. The Matunga-Mahim stretch records 18 deaths.
The study began late last year and its suggestions to tackle the problem will be implemented this year.
An earlier study on the problem of commuters crossing tracks at stations had recommended construction of 31 foot overbridges, six escalators and five elevators. “Footover bridges will be constructed at the worst spots so people can safely walk between their homes and stations. In fact, one of the biggest components of the project is to build a pedestrian bridge over Thane creek,” the official said.
Other solutions could include railings, reinforced concrete walls and ‘reorganising built spaces’.
MRVC Managing Director Rakesh Saksena said in most trespassing cases, the offenders were people living near tracks. “We will now determine what can be done to deal with the problem,” he said.
Subhash Gupta, a member of Zonal Railway Users’ Consultative Committee, said there was an urgent need to build bridges at identified sites. “The JJ school team met us and we told them the same,” he said.