Travelling on the Edge

While Mumbai's suburban trains are infamous for killing over 3,000 people annually and injuring an equal number, it is also known that many risk their lives by fatal acts of train surfing or stunts on local trains. Children in their teens, or even younger, often dangerously lean out of trains while young adults travel on the roof or lean out to touch railway poles as the train gains speed. Many also try nasty acts like hitting commuters on platforms.

Under train surfing, both the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) catch people indulging in rooftop travel, leaning out dangerously from the train, dragging feet along platform from running train and hitting other passengers.

While a classification of fatal or non-fatal casualties due to stunts is not maintained by the Government Railway Police separately for want of witnesses, frequent accidents involve roof-top daredevils receiving electric shocks, dashing against railway poles or falls from trains during non-peak hours.

In a drive conducted by Mumbai Central Railway Police in August, it was found that pilgrims to Siddhivinayak temple, would hang out dangerously from the train and hit passengers and pass lewd comments. Around 100 such offenders, including minors, were caught indulging in the offence.

While discussing the reasons behind the stunts, in August, Rajendra Trivedi, senior inspector, GRP Mumbai Central, said, "Most of the kids, when questioned about the stunts, told us they were inspired by others."

The Central Railway (CR), especially the Harbour Line, witnesses rampant train surfing with most offenders caught under section 156 (rooftop travel) of the Railway Act from Wadala, Mankhurd, Thane, Mumbra and Kurla. On Western Railway (WR), rooftop travelling is observed in areas between Vasai and Virar.

Till November 30, the RPF has prosecuted 1,827 offenders on WR and 3,767 on CR and has sent 32 persons to jail. Alok Bohra, senior Divisional Security Commissioner (DSC), RPF (CR), said, "Family upbringing plays a crucial role in preventing such acts. The youth does not understand the value of life. "

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