Thursday, July 21, 2011


Stone pelting at trains threatens passenger and loco pilot safety

Anil Kumar Sastry

Increased instances of vandalism a major bugbear for Railways
The Railways have a nagging headache and it has nothing to do with train schedules or bad pantry service. Instead, it has to do with miscreants who throw stones at moving trains, frequently injuring passengers as well as loco pilots.
On Sunday, T.A. Jeelani, assistant loco pilot, was injured on his head while glass shards entered his eyes when vandals rained stones on Train No. 17304, Yeshwantpur-Mysore Express near Nayandahalli. Working Pilot P. Vijaya Kumar immediately stopped the train and sent Mr. Jeelani to the Railway Hospital by an ambulance.
This is not an isolated incident. Stone throwing on trains has been a regular affair between Bangalore City Station and Banaswadi and from the City Station to Kengeri, especially at the stretch near Nayandahalli, said C. Sunish, general secretary, All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA), South Western Railway Zone. “Only when people get injured, such incidents are highlighted. This has been going on for a while, and the stones usually hit the loco or coaches,” said AILRSA Bangalore division secretary D. Raghavendra.
The stones, according to Mr. Sunish, are aimed in broad daylight, mainly at tracks adjoining slums. Educating people and increased policing could help curb this menace, he noted. There have been instances of passengers suffering injuries due to stone pelting. “Sometime back, a passenger in our compartment was hit by a stone when the train was passing by Kengeri, causing bleeding injuries,” said S.A. Saboor, a regular train traveller.

Brief caution

“After a stone pelting incident, regulars advise others to draw the window shutters when the train approaches the dreaded stretch. But soon, all is forgotten till the next incident occurs,” he added.
Mr. Sunish said a few months back, a loco pilot was injured when miscreants pelted stones in the Jolarpettai section. The Railway authorities should ensure safety to loco pilots by providing iron grills on the front and side windows of the loco. Existing panes should be replaced by toughened glass to prevent injuries in the event of breakage, he urged.
Any injury to loco pilots also delays the train, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers, he pointed out, calling for a tough stance against vandals. As a mark of protest, loco pilots on the Bangalore-Mysore section worked wearing helmets on Monday, he said.
Sudhanshu Mani, Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railway, told The Hindu security personnel in plainclothes are deployed to catch the culprits. “It is a law and order problem and the Government Railway Police is being asked to intensify checking,” he said. As for loco pilots' demand for iron grills and toughened window panes, Mr. Mani said such a move could prevent the pilots' front and rear views.


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