Local Death Traps: 2300 Dead On Mumbai’s Tracks Already This Year

9 people are crushed on the tracks of Mumbai locals daily, is Railways well equipped to deal with emergencies?

Updated
India
5 min read
Commuters head to work onboard a Mumbai local train. 
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  1. Kamlesh Kishori Prajapati
  2. Niteen Chavan
  3. Yuvraj Rathod
  4. Shramik Nagar
  5. Maitri Shah
  6. Bhavesh Nakate
  7. Naresh Mahadu Patil
  8. Abraham Puliyelil
  9. Shafiudeen Abdul Gani

These are just 9 people who have lost their lives on Mumbai’s railway tracks. But this list isn’t anywhere near a comprehensive one. Because, on an average, 9 people die while commuting on the Mumbai local EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Mumbai’s suburban Railway Network is considered the lifeline of the maximum city as it covers at least 319 kilometres across three corridors - Western, Central and Harbour. A reasonable ticket fare, reduced travel time and accessibility make the local trains most Mumbaikars’ top choice for commute throughout the year. However, this demand also means overcrowding.

Local Death Traps: 2300 Dead On Mumbai’s Tracks Already This Year
(Graphics Courtesy: The Quint/Rahul Gupta)

While the seating capacity of a 12-coach local train is 1172 commuters, during rush hour nearly 6000 people cram into a train. Overcrowding is one of the reasons for maximum number of deaths on railway tracks. At least 2300 people have already died this year along the tracks and over 2605 have sustained injuries. Over the last 5 years, over 18,000 people have lost their lives either by falling off crowded trains or trespassing across the tracks among other reasons.

I still remember 11 January 2014. While travelling from Ghatkopar to Kurla, I ended up missing at least 2 overcrowded trains. While trying to board another overcrowded train, I got swept by the crowd and ended up getting stuck between the train and the platform
Monica More, accident survivor
Monica More lost her arms after she fell on the  tracks at Ghatkopar station.
Monica More lost her arms after she fell on the tracks at Ghatkopar station.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Monica survived the accident but lost her arms in the ordeal. Three years after the horrific incident, Monica has once again gathered courage to start travelling by local trains. As she recalls the incident, Monica says soon after the accident she was taken to the Rajawadi hospital by two fellow commuters in an auto rickshaw as there was no ambulance at the station at the time.

Local Death Traps: 2300 Dead On Mumbai’s Tracks Already This Year
(Graphics Courtesy: The Quint/Rahul Gupta)

Nearly 500 GRP Posts Still Vacant

According to the reply to an RTI query filed by activist Samir Zaveri, there are approximately 3540 Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel assigned for security of commuters across Mumbai suburban Railways. At least 478 posts are still vacant and out of these 420 are posts vacant for police constables.

As per the RTI reply, the GRP needs over 4000 police personnel in total, these numbers were approved 20 years ago when the number of commuters and train services were much lower. But today, nearly 500 more GRP personnel positions are yet to be filled. Out of the 3500 posts that are occupied, many police personnel could be on sick leave or casual leave. Half of those present are divided into two shifts- day and night.
Samir Zaveri, RTI activist
RTI activist Samir Zaveri lost his legs in a train accident
RTI activist Samir Zaveri lost his legs in a train accident
(Photo: The Quint)

According to the RTI response, the police force need over 3000 more personnel to ensure they have adequate manpower. But while stationing more police personnel will ensure the number of accidents reduce, police personnel too believe that commuters must also adhere to the rules.

Commuters trespass railway tracks at Jogeshwari station.
Commuters trespass railway tracks at Jogeshwari station.
(Photo: The Quint)
When a commuter trespasses the tracks in front of an RPF personnel, they prevent it. If the commuters resist, they also arrest them under the Railway Act but where RPF is not present and since it’s a porous system, it is the responsibility of the commuters. There are about 80 stations and it is not possible to deploy RPF everywhere for this purpose. It is the self-discipline of the commuter which is most important but lacking.
Atul Shrivastav, Chief Security Commissioner, CR, RPF

According to official statistics, maximum number of Suburban Railway deaths have been registered at Kalyan so far with 289 people. Kurla and Thane along the Central line follow suit with over 250 deaths and Borivali station in the Western line stands third with over 240 deaths already. To reduce the number of deaths by providing instant medical assistance, Central Railways has established One Rupee Clinics at 10 stations so far. Also, five Emergency Medical Rooms have been set up at Dadar, Kurla, Wadala, Mulund and Ghatkopar railway stations.

Railway stations are very crowded in Mumbai and we saw what happened at Elphinstone station. Anything can happen any moment, anywhere. Medical emergency treatment should be available at crowded places and we are providing that free of cost. We have One Rupee Clinics at 10 locations in Central and Harbour line.
Dr Rahul Ghule, CEO of One Rupee Clinic

This especially turned out to be a life saver on 11 October after a 26-year-old woman went into labour inside the train coach at Dadar station. But experts question the delay in setting up EMRs.

26-year-old Salma Sheikh received assistance from Doctors at One Rupee Clinic in Dadar station while delivering a baby girl. 
26-year-old Salma Sheikh received assistance from Doctors at One Rupee Clinic in Dadar station while delivering a baby girl. 
(Photo Courtesy: Dr Rahul Ghule)
In March 2009, The Bombay High Court had given its first direction in the presence of the General Manager and railway officers asking them to set up emergency medical rooms at Dadar railway station as a pilot project. However, I don’t know why Railway approached Supreme Court to cancel that order. After two years, I won the case and then in April 2012 the first EMR was set up at Dadar.
Samir Zaveri, RTI activist

But despite the improving medical and security arrangements, it is highly likely that today nine people will again lose their lives on Mumbai’s deadly tracks.

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