Across the city, a section of the youth drink and make merry between stations

As dusk settles in on the city’s peripheries, a group of youngsters walk lethargically towards the railway tracks between the Tambaram and Guindy railway stations.

A few minutes later, they squat on the tracks and start drinking out of the bottles they have brought along.

Once done gulping the alcohol, they attempt to throw the bottles at a passing train.

This somewhat strange sight is now becoming more common, residents say.

The tracks between Tambaram and Guindy are not special watering holes. Young tipplers have converted railway tracks into ‘bars with an ambience’ in at least a dozen places on the stretch. On Thursday between 7.30 and 8.30 p.m. groups of youngsters were seen drinking between Mambalam–Saidapet, Guindy-St. Thomas Mount, Pazhavanthangal-Meenambakkam and other stations all the way to Tambaram.

“This practice has become a nuisance. After 7 p.m., a group of youngsters sit at the railway tracks near Nungambakkam station, and drink. It is quite unsafe for passengers who frequent these stations late in the evening,” said S. Ramkumar, a resident of Choolaimedu.

Speeding trains do not seem to bother these tipplers. “Most of them sit on the main track lines and start drinking. Sometimes, they throw stones at passing trains. There have been instances where passengers have been injured. A few years ago, a child sustained injuries in the eye due to a stone thrown by drunken youths,” said an EMU engine driver.

Residents complain that neither the local police nor the government railway police take any action.

V. Balachandran, divisional secretary, All India Loco Running Staff Association, said the problem persisted in some parts of north Chennai too. “The best way to prevent this is by regular patrolling,” he said.

Sources said that since there was a severe staff shortage at the Railway Protection Force (RPF) it would be impossible for them to monitor such issues.

“The RPF has to concentrate on core areas such as bomb detection, escorting trains and ensuring passenger safety. The GRP and the local police should help tackle this menace,” said a senior railway official.

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