Alarmed by the increasing number of deaths on the city’s suburban network, a new World Bank-funded rail urban project has included a study on the pattern of track crossers and commuter fatalities.
On an average, 4,000 passengers die every year while commuting on suburban trains.
Most of the accidents occur due to unsafe riding on trains, trespassing on railway tracks, suicide attempts, falling from trains or electrocution while sitting on rooftops of running trains.
This is believed to be the highest number of fatalities per year on any urban or suburban railway system in the world.
Social activists, however, have claimed that the railway authorities do not have proper data on the fatality rate.
“A large number of commuters die simply because of the railways’ ignorance because injured commuters are not rushed to the hospital in time. I had filed a petition in the high court highlighting the problem, for which the railways were pulled up,” said Samir Zaveri (38), who lost his legs in a train accident in 1989 and has now turned into an activist.
“The commissioning of such a study is a good effort, but all those injured found along the track are not trespassers. Those who fall from trains after hitting electric poles are also counted as trespassers. I have complained to the World Bank about the problem,” added Zaveri.
“A study on railway trespassers is being planned under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-2A, which is in preparation. This exercise will help study accident patterns, assess hazard risks and accordingly, identify mitigation measures for addressing safety issues in suburban railway operations,” said Atul Agarwal, transport specialist, World Bank, in a letter acknowledging Zaveri’s complaint.
Zaveri said more than 21,000 people have died in the last five years while commuting on the city’s two railway networks, on an average of 11 per day.
He alleged that the authorities do not have co-ordination among themselves and give different statistics for the same year.