THANE: Intensive awareness campaigns about safe travel on trains and vigil along several track-crossing spots has helped the Central Railways reduce the mishap rate by nearly 10% in the Thane zone in 2016 compared to the previous year.
The Mumbai railway police statistics reveal that the number of fatal accidents in 2016 was 351 while in the year before, 391 people had died in various rail-related mishaps. The volume of injured passengers has also reduced to 354 this year.
Thane section, however, retains the dubious distinction of being the third most dangerous zone on the entire Mumbai railway network after Kalyan and Kurla that have been seeing the highest volume of railway accidents year after year.
Railway officials say that most mishaps occur due to commuters falling off trains or people getting knocked down while crossing tracks. The suburbs have witnessed a spurt in residential colonies that has seen a direct jump in passenger footfalls at the stations, especially those between Dombivli and Thane, but the same hasn't been matched with an increase in services.
Many passengers are forced to board crowded trains from Diva, Mumbra and Kalwa and travel on footboards, leading to instances of few falling off when the train is moving.
Further, several porous points along the tracks on either sides or level crossings has also led to a sporadic rise in number of people infringing on the tracks and getting run over. The two level crossings in Kalwa and Diva witness a high number of mishaps as people are tempted to cross over without using the bridges, informs a railway official. Few commuters from Vitawa and Kalwa often walk down the tracks to and from Thane station dangerously exposing themselves to being knocked down by speeding trains on the route.
Officials claimed the drop in mishap figures was majorly due to concerted efforts of the railways and the police to make aware of the perils of dangerous travel and said they were working to further reduce the fatalities this year. Several initiatives including increasing height of platforms, meeting religious leaders in Mumbra to publicly caution youngsters from not travelling on footboards, making continuous announcements or displaying graphics which seems to have had an impact, said railway officials from the Thane section.
An official illustrates saying that while there were several cases of passengers losing lives and limbs in 2015 by falling in gap traps, not many similar cases were reported last year.
"Height of platforms was increased wherever necessary and passengers continuously alerted of not boarding or alighting moving trains," said an official.
Recommended By Colombia
"We have also been cautioning commuters against the perils of travelling rooftop or footboard or even crossing tracks. We started few shuttle services between Kurla and Kalyan and also gave a halt to fast trains and Diva that may have helped reduce some load off the section," says a Central Railway official.
Meanwhile, activists have said the efforts need to be made to further reduce the numbers. "Maximum number of mishaps occurs because of line crossing. We have asked the railways to remove ramps from the platform ends and also start Diva locals that could help reduce the mishap numbers in this section," said Adesh Bhagat of Diva passenger association after he sent his observations to reduce fatal mishaps to the railways last year.
"Areas beyond Thane have expanded rapidly in the last five years but the ratio of services hasn't matched it leading to massive crowding during peak hours. The authorities have failed to ensure any safety aspects as commuters are falling victim to mishaps. The platform height at Kalyan needs to be increased urgently," complained Shyam Ubale, a representative of the suburban railway passenger association beyond Kalyan.
However, in terms of volume of railway accidents year after year, Thane section ranks as the third most dangerous zone on the entire Mumbai railway network after Kalyan and Kurla. Many passengers board crowded trains from Diva, Mumbra and Kalwa and travel on footboards, leading to instances of few falling off when the train starts moving
Source - Times Of India