54-year-old inspector of works was hit by express train near Perambur station

A railway engineer who was crossing the tracks near Perambur railway station died on Tuesday after an express train hit him.

The police said S. Nagarathinam (54), a resident of Jolarpet, was an inspector of works attached to the Bridge Railway Inspection (BRI) team of the Southern Railway. He was on his way to the bridge inspector office located a few hundred metres away from the station around 2.55 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. Nagarathinam was crossing the tracks near the station when he was hit by the train which was travelling between Chennai Central and Avadi.

A few commuters, who spotted his body on the track, alerted the police and railway officials who rushed to the spot and recovered the body. After post-mortem, the body was handed over to Nagarathinam’s family.

“At the time of the accident, the railway official was on duty. It was unfortunate that even railway officials, who know which direction the in-coming trains come, cross the tracks without realising the danger,” said a government railway police (GRP) officer.

After the Chennai Beach-Tambaram suburban line, the Chennai Central-Tiruvallur line, especially between Basin Bridge and Ambattur, is the second deadliest stretch, with at least one person dying in accidents every other day, according to officials.

Crossing of tracks while talking on cell phones and a high concentration of human habitations, especially slums, along the tracks in these areas are said to be the primary reasons for the accidents.

Sources in the GRP said, of the total number of accidents which resulted in 440 deaths on the Chennai Central-Tiruvallur line during the period between January 2012 and February 2013, 140 persons lost their lives on the stretch between the Basin Bridge and Ambattur railway stations.

On an average, every fifteen minutes, a train passes this suburban section. During rush hours, the frequency comes down to 10 minutes. Around 140 suburban services are operated between Chennai Central and Tiruvallur, Tirutani and Arakkonam every day and 29 long-distance trains also pass this section.

According to officials, residents frequently cross the tracks near the stations at Basin Bridge, Vyasarpadi Jiva, Perambur, Villivakkam, Ambattur, Avadi and Tiruvallur, where a large number of human settlements are located along the tracks.

“Drivers of local trains were asked to reduce their speed limit to 20 kmph when they approach such identified accident-prone stations, some 200 metres ahead of the station. The existing speed of a suburban train is around 90 kmph,” said a railway official.

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