On a fast track to death

Bangalore City Top Story

People in Hampi Nagar routinely crossing over railway tracks around the Krishnadevaraya Halt railway station

By Niket Nishant

The residents of Hampi Nagar in Vijayanagar continue to cross railway tracks illegally, despite the Railways’ crackdown on unmanned level crossings (ULCs). The fracture in the wall separating the tracks from the road has allowed the residents to cross over tracks and risk their lives.

The Government Railway Police (GRP), in press briefings last year, said that 1253 people were killed in the South Western Railway’s Bengaluru division in two years. The number of deaths in 2016 and 2017 was 620 and 633 respectively.

Mr. Adarsh Malik, a commuter who crosses the tracks regularly, said, “This is not a big deal. People are careful about the approaching trainsand accidents are rare.”

However, section 161 of the Railways Act of 1989 makes negligence in crossing ULCs an offence punishable with imprisonment upto one year.

In 2017, the Indian Railways had come up with an initiative to eliminate all unmanned level crossings (ULCs) by 2020. Following this, the South Western Railways (SWR), which has the Bengaluru division under its jurisdiction, eliminated all 71 ULCs in the city – 48 of them were closed while the remaining 23 were to be manned throughout. This target was achieved in July 2018.

Mr. Sanjeev Dyamannavar, manager at Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and rail activist, said, “The railway authorities could come up with a policy to install foot over bridges at places where there are no official crossings as it is difficult to guarantee that rules are followed at such places.”

In India, deaths due to train accidents have shown a steady increase from 2011 to 2017, as reported by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme ImplementationThe number has been brought down since then but callousness on the part of the commuters is still a cause for concern.