Sunday, May 23, 2010

Comment on the train death toll

We watched a documentary on the Mumbai train system the other day, which we made use of when we left the city. It’s the main transportation system through the city and some days over 6 million people ride the system, at extremely low costs.

But here’s the thing – it’s totally overwhelmed by the volume. The population has swollen and the system’s capacity can’t keep up.

One of the main problems tends to be that no one wants to follow the rules in the stations. They’re all in a hurry to get where they need to go, so they walk across the tracks and down take the elevated walkways, which are admittedly a pain when you’ve got heavy baggage.

So, every year between 3,000 and 4,000 people are hit and killed on the train tracks in Mumbai alone. That’s 10 people a day that die on their tracks.

The drivers are told to stop the train, get the body off the tracks, then move on and report the body at the next stop. You can’t stop the train for any longer than that.

Granted, Mumbai is a monster city. It’s half the size of my country. But 3,000 people a year dying on their train tracks is insane. And, while not easily preventable, preventable all the same if someone really wanted to fix the situation.

Perhaps this is just one of many examples of me applying my cultural norms to this Indian population that is so different from my own.

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