Kolkata Metro: Victim To Suicides And Snags

Posted on July 10, 2012 in Travel

By Pankaj Khandelwal:

‘A man attempted suicide, Metro stopped for 1 hr’
‘Train developed a snag, metro services hit for 90 minutes’

To a Kolkatan, this is more or less regular news in the local section of a daily newspaper. Metro, a pride of Kolkata is one of the most efficient ways of moving in the city which is otherwise jam packed with rickety buses, yellow cabs or cars. Connecting Dumdum, northwest corner of the city to Tollygunge (Centre of Bengal film industry) in the south of Kolkata, Metro has always been a commuter’s paradise.

But the paradise has been plagued by two major problem- suicides by people and snags in the train. Of lately people are using metro as one of the means of ending their lives. 4 rupees ride to heaven or hell depending on your deeds. Since its inception in 1984, a total of 284 suicides have been attempted in which nearly 110 persons have died. This year alone 7-8 attempts took place. A typical suicide scene look likes a train entering a station, when a suicide jumps in front of the train. Sometimes due to alertness of the motorman the suicide bid is foiled but in the worst case the train rolls over the person resulting in instant death and the body being badly mutilated. As the tracks need to be clean, the metro services are stopped for nearly an hour causing an ordeal to the bystander. It also proves to be a horrific experience for the motorman and the metro staffs cleaning up the mess. Several measures were taken to curb the suicides like lowering the speed of the train while entering the station, monitoring the people with the help of CCTV cameras and police personnel, but all of these measures couldn’t succeed in stopping it. The only possible alternative that seems possible is putting up platform screen doors which open up only when the train arrives, thus making it fool proof. The proposal is already on paper and trials on few stations will start in coming days.

The second problem faced by Kolkata metro is about the snag in its trains. With most of the racks more than 10 years old, rate of developing snags has been increasing. Even due to snags, the metro services are affected for more than an hour. Many times the train even stopped right in the middle of the tunnel adding to the troubles of the commuters. Not only have the old racks that face the problem, even the newly inducted AC trains developed a snag now and then. In spite of numerous tests runs that were conducted before the induction of the AC racks, they still cause trouble. As Kolkata metro is based on the outdated third rail technology in which it draws its power from the third rail running parallel to the two tracks, preparing or repairing racks according to aforesaid technology is a hard task due to the non-availability of the required skill workers. Necessary steps should be taken to train the workers and replacing the older racks with the newer and efficient ones, and then only the charm of Kolkata will get its glory back.