Gujarat: No walkway next to rail tracks, Kakra Creek Bridge a death trap

The Kakra Creek Bridge, where five persons were killed in the last two days. Hanif Malek

Five youths were killed after being hit by different trains at the same spot on Kakra Creek Bridge near Udhna Railway station on Saturday and Sunday. Even 10 years ago, 16 passengers died as they were hit by trains while walking on the bridge. Pedestrians take the risk of walking on the railway bridge, using a narrow iron sheet fixed in the middle of a railway track, as there is no space on either side of the bridge for people to walk on.

The first of two incidents this past week took place on Saturday. Six youths, all residents of Gangavada village near Ajmer in Rajasthan, were on their way to Surat on the Suryanagri Express train. They transferred to the Ajmer Puri train to reach Valsad but while on the train, they learned that the train does not got to Valsad but takes another route, the Tapti line. All six of them alighted from the train after it slowed down before the Kakra Creek bridge. Trains routinely slow down at this spot as the bridge is narrow.

After the train passed, they walked on the tracks to get to Udhna railway station to catch another train to reach Valsad. But as three of them were on the tracks, the Karnavati Express arrived on the spot, ramming through the pedestrians. Three others managed to escape.


RPF to patrol deadly stretch

After over 20 people died in the past 10 years walking on Kakra Creek Bridge, the Railway authorities have said they would get the Railway Protection Force personnel to patrol the stretch from Udhna railway station to the bridge to stop people from walking on it. While the locals know about the risks posed by walking on the railway track bridge, there is no walkway along the tracks for them to use.

The three who were unhurt rushed to Udhna Railway station and informed the railway police about the incident. Government Railway Police (GRP) officials and technical staff from Udhna and Surat immediately went to the spot of the accident, and found that of three severely injured, Kuldeep Rajput (18) had died on the spot while two others Praveen Ravat(19) and Praveen Singh (18) were barely alive. The two were taken to New Civil Hospital, where they were declared dead after preliminary treatment.

The three persons who escaped unhurt have been identified as Pintoo alias Prakash Singh, Mahendra Singh and Omprakash Singh. The family members of the three deceased youth reached Surat on Sunday and took the bodies home for cremation.

Late on Sunday night, a similar accident took place at the same spot, as two youths walking on the same railway track on Kakra Creek Bridge were hit by the Bandra Udaipur Superfast express train.

Surat GRP officials reached the spot and took charge of the bodies. The police said the youths are yet to be identified but seem to be aged around 25 years. The bodies were taken to SMIMER hospital for post-mortem examination.

We found a bag with clothes from the spot and we are working on identifying the deceased. We suspect that they might have come here for the first time and were walking on the Kakra Creek Bridge, Railway police inspector Y B VAghela said.

Surat Station Director C M Garuda said it was illegal to walk on the tracks, but these repeated accidents were taking place as there was no pedestrian walkway alongside the tracks. Between both the tracks on Kakra Creek Bridge, the railway authorities had fixed an iron sheet so that railway staff can check the status of tracks and if required and get it repaired, he said.

The pedestrians end up walking on that iron sheet as they cannot walk on the side of the railway tracks.

Walking on the tracks is an offence. In both incidents, the youth were found to have been walking on the iron sheet fixed between the two railway tracks and were hit by trains, he said.