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Sunday, August 16, 2015

people addicted to mobiles - safety takes back seat .... Police tries hard !!

A week ago, around 25 people were reportedly killed after the Kamayani Express from Mumbai to Varanasi and the Mumbai-Jabalpur Janata Express derailed near Kudawa railway station, about 30 kilometres from Harda district in south western Madhya Pradesh…. Sad that so many lives were lost in accident.

There are Railway signals – they are required to safely direct railway traffic -  prevent trains from colliding and other accidents. Though trains move on fixed rails, the weight of trains and momentum makes it difficult to stop before reaching the impending obstacle. From the early days when rail cars were hauled by horses or mules, there have been hand signals.  Railway signals are a means of communication beyond the range of the voice. Signals convey lot of things : that the line ahead is clear (free of any obstruction) or blocked; that the driver has permission to proceed; the speed  the train may travel and more .. they could placed at the start of a section of track; on the approach to a movable item of infrastructure, and at various points…. Some of the types are : Vane, Semaphore, electric, light, motion and other type of signals.

Then there are level crossing – manned and unmanned – lots of accidents occur in the latter.  A level crossing is an intersection where a railway line crosses a road or path at the same level, as opposed to the railway line crossing over or under using a bridge or tunnel. Quite frequently, deaths occur at crowded suburban rail networks of the metros. Besides inevitable train accidents, some contribute to fatality by hanging outside the moving train,  negligent crossing – mobile phones too contribute as reckless individuals keep talking on phone, even when crossing the train tracks. In many places, people do not care for the oncoming train [scant regard for their safety and life] as they dart across the path, fully aware that the crossing is closed and train is on the move – some are caught unaware crossing at bends where visibility is poor. Some try crossing with their vehicles circumventing the closed gates !

You cannot have Police standing at vantage points and enforcing rules all the time – yet, here is some action of cops as reported in TOI, Chennai edition.  Tired of warning people against talking on phones while crossing railway tracks, the Government Railway Police (GRP) have decided to act. On Thursday morning, they seized 87 headphones and ear pieces from offenders at Perambur in just one hour of `direct action'.

The action, though long overdue, is expected to reduce the scale of the problem that was assuming alarming proportions. Police figures show that of 600 deaths on the railway tracks between Chennai Central and Arakkonam stations in 2014, 130 deaths were of those talking or listening to music on phones while crossing tracks.In the last couple of days, two women were run over by suburban trains in the city , near Pattabiram and in Perambur. Both of them [M Bhavaneeshwari, 32, of Vyasarpadi, and R Jacquiline, 45, of Thirumullaivoyal] -were talking on their phones while crossing the tracks.

This year, though the number of deaths on the 80km Chennai Central-Arakkonam stretch was a relatively low until July 31, almost 40 of those killed had their headsets on while crossing the tracks.Thursday's action, a senior police officer said, was the right way to spark awareness among people. GRP inspector S Sekar kicked off the `show' by snatching headphones off people crossing the tracks.

“We gave them each a token that they can produce and get back the headphones in the evening,’ said Sekar.Police said they warned the offenders while returning the headsets. “The idea is to keep them away from using headphones at east for a day to highlight the importance of not using them,“ said an investigation officer.Citing the case of the latest victims -Bhavaneshwari, a marine engineer's wife living with her nineyear-old daughter in Vyasarpadi, and Thirumullaivoyal resident Jacquiline, struggling to raise her two children after her husband's demise -police said life turns hell for families whose sole breadwinners are snatched away in accidents. And most deaths on the tracks can be avoided if people simply stop using their phones, said another officer.

“It is to create this awareness that we have launched his campaign,“ said the officer.Police said there are plans to  conduct similar programmes at many railway stations and near railway crossings.  A welcome move indeed – sadly, people are not listening [even as they are listening to music and talk all the time !]

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th Aug 2015.

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