Railways says deaths on tracks due to 'trespassing', lists measures to curb such fatalities

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New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) Days after it came to light that 8,733 people died on railway tracks in 2020, Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma on Tuesday said these 'are purely deaths by trespassing and not railway accidents'.

In a press briefing, Sharma also listed several measures taken by the railways in the past two years to prevent such fatalities.

He said that over the last two years 448 foot over bridges have been constructed by the railways, taking the total number of such bridges in the rail network to 4,087.

Similarly, he said, 7,874 road over bridges have been constructed in the last seven years with 168 in the last fiscal and 951 in 2020-21.

He also said that all 20,375 manned level crossing gates on the broad gauge network have been eliminated.

'The deaths that are being mentioned are purely deaths by trespassing and not railway accidents. It has nothing to do with the railways,” he said.

Over 8,700 people were mowed down on railway tracks in 2020 even though passenger train services were severely curtailed due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, with officials saying many of the victims were migrant workers. The Railway Board shared the data on such deaths for the period between January and December 2020 in its reply to a question by Madhya Pradesh-based activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur under the Right to Information Act.

Responding to questions on convenience fee at newly developed railway stations, Sharma said that levying such fees was on the table for discussion but a decision is yet to be taken. The possibility of railways levying such charges had come under fire from sections of the public.

Sharma also said that the railways was ready to normalise its operations with the coronavirus situation getting better, but added that a timeline cannot be provided as the pandemic was still a reality.

Currently 889 Special Mail Express trains are running on an average per day while 2,891 suburban services per day are being operated. In addition, 26 special trains are being operated as clones of highly patronized trains and 479 passenger services are in operation.

“Train services will continue to be provided as per demand,” he said.

Sharma also said that the demand for trains has increased with the number of passengers being carried by the railways increasing from 5 lakh in the last month to 13 lakh this month.

He also said that to clear extra rush 500 additional trains are being run during April-May-June 2021. The trains are for destinations having high demand like Gorakhpur, Patna, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Varanasi, Guwahati, Manduadih, Barauni, Prayagraj, Bokaro, Ranchi, Lucknow and Kolkata. PTI ASG SMN SMN