Trespassing And Untoward Incidents On Rail Premises Claim About 10,000 Lives A Year, Says Railways

by Arun Kumar Das - Aug 21, 2020 11:43 AM +05:30 IST
Trespassing And Untoward Incidents On Rail Premises Claim About 10,000 Lives A Year, Says RailwaysChildren playing on rail tracks. 
  • Data puts the number of deaths due to trespassing or untoward incidents on rail premises at 10,000 a year.

In last three years, around 29,000-30,000 people died due to trespassing and other untoward incidents on railway premises, Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav has said.

The data on fatalities due to trespassing or untoward incidents on rail premises suggest that there are about 10,000 deaths a year.

Responding to the government's think tank NITI Aayog's queries on railways' zero fatality data recorded in the last fiscal, the public transporter maintained that it does keep a record of all the deaths that have occurred on its premises under three separate heads — consequential accidents, trespassing and untoward incidents.

In a letter to Railway Board Chairman, NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Amitabh Kant had taken note of the railways' claim of zero deaths in the current fiscal and only five deaths in 2019-20. He questioned the reliability of the data while pointing towards over a thousand deaths in Mumbai suburban section every year.

In the quarterly review meeting of Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) in the last week of July, chaired by Kant, a presentation was made which highlighted the safety works undertaken as well as their impact on railway safety.

"As per the data presented by the Railways, there has been a noticeable improvement in railway safety," Kant said in a letter to Yadav after the meeting.

However, Kant pointed out in his letter to Yadav, "the presentation highlights a total of five deaths recorded in 2019-20 and zero deaths in the current fiscal years. Is this a realistic record? In the Mumbai suburban network over 2,000 people lose their lives every year. It was informed that these deaths are caused on accounts of trespassing and therefore not counted."

"I would like to draw your attention to the fact that many of these deaths are caused by people falling overboard or from the platform on to the tracks. Hence, this should not be excluded from the purview of RRSK. It should be ideally recorded officially," Kant said in his letter.

Seeking concerted efforts to prevent deaths in the suburban service, Kant requested for investment in the design of coaches on suburban networks such as Mumbai “which must have automated doors to prevent such occurrences".

The railways, however, maintained that those Mumbai suburban accidents were in the category of untoward incidents and trespassing not consequential accidents.

"It is true that consequential accidents were indeed zero in 2019-2020 and so far this year as well. We keep records of deaths due to trespassing like when people come on the tracks and are run over or people standing on the footboard of trains or hanging out of trains. In the last three years, around 29,000 to 30,000 people have lost their lives due to either trespassing or untoward incidents," said Yadav.

The chairman of the Railway Board further said steps are being taken to prevent trespassing and untoward incidents at rail premises.

According to railways, more than 8 billion passengers travelled by trains last year, but there were zero passenger fatalities due to accidents. This has been achieved with lots of effort on the part of the railways.

"While the deaths of passengers due to railway accidents has become zero, unfortunate casualties do occur due to trespassing and untoward incidents like falling from trains and that due to negligence or carelessness on the part of passengers/public. These are incidents on which the railways have little or no control. Efforts are on to sensitise the public on avoiding such situations," the railways said.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at

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