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Track death numbers remain grim

Saturday, 7 June 2014 - 6:20am IST | Agency: dna

Statistics obtained under the Right to Information Act by on the number of people who have died or gotten injured on the suburban system between 2011 and 2013 paints a grim picture.

Despite the crores of rupees spent by railways on upgrading infrastructure and the plethora of advertisements and posters at stations exhorting people not to tempt fate, the numbers, sought by social activist Chetan Kothari, have remained much the same.

In some stretches, the numbers have stabilised, something which officials say is a heartening sign, a reminder that less people might be crossing tracks despite the obvious increase in crowds on that stretch. In other sections, however, the numbers have continued to increase leaving the railway authorities at their wits' ends.

For example, the number of deaths between Ambernath and Ulhasnagar in 2011 was 12, which went up to 18 in 2012 and then jumped to 27 in 2013. Even the stretch between Ghatkopar and Vikhroli has shown itself to be a chronic problem spot. After the number of deaths dropped from 42 in 2011 to 32 in 2012, it again shot up to 51 in 2013.

"What it means is that the low numbers in 2012 was just an aberration and people continue to cross tracks or exhibit dangerous commuting behaviour between the two stations," said a CR official.

There is some glimmer of hope in certain places which were chronic black spots on the suburban map. The number of commuters dying in Matunga station area has come down from 41 in 2011 to 40 in 2012 and 36 in 2013. In Sion, the numbers have fallen from 46 in 2011 to 44 in 2012 to 31 in 2013.

The Bandra to Vile Parle section is another plus point for railways. The number of people dying in suburban accidents has come down from 89 in 2011 to 60 in 2012 and 51 in 2013. Similar is the trend in the Sewri to Chembur stretch, where the numbers have progressively gone down from 83 in 2011 to 72 in 2012 and 69 in 2013.

However, as far as officials are concerned, continuous drop in numbers over a period of four to five years is the only reliable sign that less people are living dangerously on the suburban network.

Speaking to dna, Kothari said it was time the railways took up anti-trespassing and other safety measures on a war footing. "Their approach to building walls, fencing, foot overbridges and other such works is very slow and also insufficient," he added.

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