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Updated: June 6, 2013 19:15 IST

Southern line of suburban rail is deadliest of all

D. Madhavan
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After a Masters in Journalism at the University of Madras, Madhavan now covers crime and civic issues in the northern neighbourhood of the city including wildlife and heritage for The Hindu. »

The southern section of the suburban rail network in the city is turning out to be the deadliest of the three rail lines.

According to government railway police (GRP) figures, 465 persons died along the tracks on the Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu stretch between January and November this year.

Around 440 persons died on the Chennai Central-Arakkonam stretch on the west line while about 160 persons died on the north line between Korukuppet and Gummudipoondi during the same period.

Last year, 402 persons lost their lives on the 56-km Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu stretch. Talking on cellphones when crossing tracks seems to be the commonest cause of such accidents, an official said.

On an average, every fifteen minutes, a train passes through the suburbs on this stretch. During rush hours, the frequency comes down to 10 minutes. Around 290 suburban services are operated between Chennai Beach and Chengalpattu every day. Hundreds of long distance trains run between Chennai and the southern districts via Chengalpattu.

Lack of fence or side barricade at most stations, especially near congested settlements along Chromepet, Pallavaram, Tambaram and Paranur, result in deaths on tracks.

“Students and office-goers under 30 years of age constitute nearly 90 per cent of such victims. As most of them are either talking on cellphones or wearing headphones, they don’t hear an approaching train until it is too late,” said a GRP officer.

“Fewer human settlements along the tracks on the north and west suburban lines restrict trespassing. Also, there are fewer services on these stretches as compared to the Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu sector, which is probably why the number of deaths is low,” the officer said.

In an effort to prevent such accidents, GRP has identified 15 danger zones on the southern line, within city limits. These include the stations at Mambalam, Kodambakkam, Guindy, Tambaram, Tiruvallur and Arakkonam where it has been suggested that parapet walls be built along the tracks to prevent trespassing.

Further, all drivers of local trains have been asked to reduce speed to 20 kmph when they approach such accident-prone stations.

The drivers must decrease speed of the train about 200 metres ahead of the station. Currently, most suburban trains run at a speed of 60 kmph, an official said.

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Southern railway should construct foot over bridge, trolley pathway to enable senior citizens, physically challenged persons to ingress, exit suburban railway stations. Annanur Halt do not have proper entry exit for reaching suburban railway platforms, ticket booking counters, do not have proper public address system to announce arriving, departing trains. Requesting railway officials to redress the above grievances which will stop the loss of human lives in suburban line between Chennai and Avadi section.

Posted on: Dec 7, 2012 at 19:25 IST

Reducing the speed limit of the train will not fix the problem; people are still going to be careless and take advantage of a slower train approaching and still cross the tracks. A train moving at 20 KPH can still kill a person if the person is careless.

from:  Sunny
Posted on: Dec 7, 2012 at 18:48 IST

it is a norms are required. but peopla are also to blame.youngsters men and women enjoy hanging out of the compartment while train is running.people squat at the entrance passage forcing people to crowd at the doorway.falling out is also a major hazard.
walls would make people climb 45 steps at every instance. this is not user friendly considering more of older people,people with knee pain,heart problem,leg injury etc. who can neither drive nor afford a vehicle use the train.convenience nay comfort forces people to travel by train.i have yet to see the elevator work at say tirumailai station.more of a contractual requirement i guess.

from:  revathi
Posted on: Dec 7, 2012 at 09:45 IST

"Lack of fence or side barricade at most stations, especially near... " This sounds like humans are expected to be treated like cattle. Defining some of these areas as "danger zones" is outright absurd, given that it takes less than 5 seconds for any person to get out of harm's way even if a train is approaching! The danger is from stupidity and carelessness, not by a reliable mode of transport! Reducing the speed of trains is a knee-jerk reaction to reduce this problem. Why should all commuters suffer from delays due to the foolishness of the few that step in front of their trains?

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Dec 7, 2012 at 08:38 IST
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