There has been a marginal increase in the number of people who were killed after being hit by EMU and long-distance express trains and in other train-related accidents in the southern suburbs of Chennai.
While 165 persons were killed in such accidents in 2009, the number rose to 168 last year, according to officials of the Government Railway Police. Like in the previous years, Tirusulam, Pallavaram, Chromepet, Irumbuliyur and Potheri continue to be the most dangerous accident-prone spots. The stretch between St. Thomas Mount and Singaperumal Koil railway stations, a distance of about 35 km, falls under the jurisdiction of Government Railway Police station, Tambaram.
Commuters and residents are of the view that the accident rate could have been brought down if existing facilities for pedestrians were better maintained.
According to railway policemen, the frequent accidents around Tirusulam railway station happened because of a blind curve of the main line used by express trains and a number of accidents took place in the early morning hours.
At Chromepet, people continued to walk across the track to reach the southern end of the railway station's platform and also under the road over bridge at MIT Gate to reach either sides. Irumbuliyur, located between Tambaram and Perungalathur railway stations has always been a cause of worry for the policemen and Southern Railway officials too.
Unfenced areas near railway stations witness frequent accidents and if the gaps are plugged, pedestrians, especially vendors, damaged them, policemen said. According to train commuters, the need of the hour was to invest in modernisation for the safety and comfort of the several lakh people using suburban electric trains.
Apart from accidents caused as a result of trains running over the victims, a sizable number of the fatalities include “self-fall” where commuters slip and fall from moving trains on the ground or even on platforms. Along with Railway Protection Force and GRP, the Safety Division of Southern Railway organises safety awareness programmes frequently on the menace of footboard travel and also about commuters talking on mobile phones while crossing the track.