567 railway deaths in and around Bengaluru this year

People crossing the railway track below Banaswadi flyover.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

On an average, two people die in train-related accidents every day in and around Bengaluru. As per data from the Ministry of Railways for this year, the number stands at 567 from January 1 to September 30.

Crossing tracks illegally and footboard accidents are the most common reasons. “Many people also try to end their lives on the tracks,” said a railway official.

Five Government Railway Police Stations (GRPS) in and around the city fall under the jurisdiction of Bengaluru division. Of these, Bengaluru Rural witnessed the highest number of deaths (191) followed by Bengaluru City Police Station ( 151). Bengaluru Cantonment reported 123 deaths and at Baiyappanahalli the figure stands at 72. At 30, Bangarpet saw the least number of deaths this year.

According to senior police officials, the railway authorities and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) do not have sufficient personnel or infrastructure to stop people from trespassing on railway tracks, which is one of the main reasons for the high number of fatalities.

“Since the jurisdiction is huge and rail lines run through hundreds of kilometres, deploying more people may not be the solution. Citizens, too, need to be responsible. They should follow rules and regulations,” said a senior police official.

M.B. Boralingaiah, Superintendent of Police, Railways, said that the railway police had taken various preventive and corrective measures to minimise deaths. “It is extremely difficult to monitor the entire length of railway tracks. Also, the tracks are easily accessible to people at most places. Hence, people tend to trespass, and cross them to save time and avoid walking a longer distance,” he said.

Another problem, he said, is difficulty identifying the cause of death. “It’s difficult to segregate suicide cases from deaths occurred due to accidents.”

Violations are reported even in places where foot-over-bridges are available. “We make regular announcements urging passengers to use foot-over-bridges and avoid crossing the tracks, but people do not heed them,” added Mr. Boralingaiah.

A senior RPF official said that most of the deaths due to accidents were caused because people choose convenience over safety. The RPF conducts regular drives against trespassing, travelling on footboards or rooftops but it’s not enough.

“In the past three months, alone, there have been at least 1,100 cases of people travelling on footboards. People know it is against the law and also that it is risky. However, they refuse to take precautions or obey rules,” the officials said.

Railway level crossings are a headache

Lack of infrastructure such as passenger foot-over-bridges and underpasses as well as the extensive use of level crossings, especially within city limits, are some of the main reasons for train-related deaths, say urban planners and railway experts.

According to pedestrians and motorists, level crossings are a safety hazard. There are more than 25 railway level crossing points in the city and many are surrounded by residential areas or slums.

The lack of Road Over Bridges (ROB) or road under bridges (RUB) is not only a major problem in terms of safety but also hinders the movement of trains and chokes traffic, said urban transport expert Sanjeev V. Dyamannavar.

Railway officials hold a similar view.

The railway level crossing at K.G. Halli is one example. People can be seen not only crossing the railway track but also walking or sitting beside the track.

The situation is no different at the railway track below Hebbal flyover.

“The place is also congested and extremely dangerous,” said Gautham D. a regular commuter, pointing at the absence of a foot overbridge (FOB) in such a busy place.

According to Mr. Dyamannavar, the government rarely takes into account the need for FOBs, especially at railway level crossings. “It has been almost 15 years since the Hebbal flyover was constructed. However, officials are yet to decide on building a FOB. This is the situation across the city,” he said.

Both the Central and State governments had neglected to eliminate railway level crossing within cities with construction of ROBs and RUBs. “Coordination between agencies and the Central and State governments for funds and land acquisition is a huge problem,” he said.

Carmelaram railway level crossing that links the neighbouring areas to the IT hubs of Electronics City and Whitefield is another problematic spot.

Jagadish Reddy of Varthur Rising said they have been seeking an ROB for several years. “But our attempts have not succeeded. Apart from traffic snarls, accidents are common due to the lack of infrastructure and negligence of people,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:25:49 PM |

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