The Indian rail network is attempting to reduce the risk of serious injury and death faced by rail passengers boarding moving trains on platforms, trialling a system that emits light to warn of oncoming dangers. The blue light emitted from the safety system will alert people to the minimum height that people will need to clear to get on the train, as well as warning them of external objects or trains coming from the other direction.
The introduction of the warning system is presumably seen as a more viable and economical way to reduce the number of incidents on platforms. Many thousands of trains on the Indian rail network are fitted with traditional swing-style doors, which can be held open as the train leaves the platform; upgrading those same trains with more modern electric doors would be a huge undertaking.
Short of outlawing the practice of boarding moving trains completely, developing a workable and viable solution to improving the safety of overcrowded trains will undoubtably be a priority for the government. As reported in Indian media, more than 400 people a year die from falling from train, with close to 900 more people severely injured in a none-month period last year.
The news of the light-based warning system came as India announced its plans to strengthen frontline security at 200 of its stations with airport-style security scanning procedures. When installed, passengers would need to pass through gates and checkpoints before they can make it onto the platform – introduced following an attack on police from a lone gunman in November last year. The move by India echoes that of other nations looking to prevent terrorist attacks or the moving of dangerous weapons through train stations – with stations in Singapore and the US both adopting the practice.
India’s example, which will include watch towers, CCTV networks and quick response teams at 202 stations across the country, is yet to be fully finalised, however it would likely include people and luggage scanner allied with external cameras fitted with automatic licence plate recognition.
Concerns that the new security measures would prevent passengers from catching their trains were dismissed by one of the officials helping introduce one such system in Pune, western India. Quoted in The Times of India, director general Arun Kumar, said: “We are considering a system under which passengers can be given access to the station to catch a train just prior to its departure.”