MUMBAI: Even as railway officials claim to be operating maximum suburban trains to ease the hardships of daily commuters in Mumbai, the number of deaths and those injured after falling from trains has gone up in the last one decade, as per an RTI query.
A whopping 25,722 passengers fell from suburban trains (travelling on Western, Central and Harbour suburban services in Mumbai Commissionerate) in last 10 years, of whom 6,989 commuters died while 18,733 survived, said RTI activist Anis Khan quoting a reply received from Government Railway Police (GRP), Mumbai. In 2005, total 494 commuters lost their lives after falling from running trains. This figure went up subsequently in the coming years and reached upto 901 in 2013, up 82 per cent as compared to the death toll in 2005, he said.
However, 2014 saw a marginal decline with 797 deaths reported after falling from suburban trains, he said. Khan said the railway administration has "completely failed" to provide safe and comfortable journey to the people. "The basic reason why people are dying like animals is that railway officers have entirely failed to comprehend the hardships of the commuters...and the basic reason behind this (inability to comprehend the problems) is that officers never travel in local trains," he said.
Most of the passengers fall or slip from the running trains when they struggle to get into a coach and fail to enter it or get dashed against a pole near railway track, he said. "Until and unless officers do not feel the pinch of travelling in overcrowded local trains, such deaths are not going to stop," Khan said. As per the statistics provided under the RTI query, apart from 6,989 passengers who died after falling from trains, 22,289 passengers succumbed while crossing the tracks (trespassing).
A railway officer, on condition of anonymity, said, "This is true that number of cases of falling of passengers has gone up, but it also includes those cases when many people lost their lives while performing stunts." "But sensing the gravity of the cases, constant announcements are made not to board or alight from running trains," he added.