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Escalators at stations, and boundary walls along tracks have cut the death rate on Mumbai’s railways, and it will now be the turn of drones. The Western Railway is close to finalising a plan to deploy small unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor its tracks, and cut the number of train-hit deaths due to trespassing.

A senior Western Railway officer said the plan is unique and the firm Indian Eye Security will provide the drone. It can cover nearly 30 km at a stretch. Thus, the pilot project, which will be demonstrated on January 25, will be on the Churchgate to Borivali route, with a charging point at Dadar railway station. The live view from the UAV will be monitored at the control room of Railway Protection Force, where CCTV cameras are also watched.

This comes off the echoes of South Africa’s Metrorail who also faces the struggle of commuters being killed on railway tracks. Day after day, commuters walk between the tracks and there’s a rise in the need for more eyes on the tracks.

The death toll along Mumbai rail tracks was 3,304 in 2015, and 3,349 persons were injured, per official data. In South Africa, per Stats SA, the death rate increase year to year.

The images generated will enable security staff to reach an accident spot within minutes. Discussions are on between security and railway officials, and multiple clearances are required.

Overhead traction wires are located about 15-20 metres above the tracks and drones will fly at 50 metres, during peak hours.

Also, drone cameras can produce superior recordings. “Sometimes, there are suicides and we can save people through a live feed.

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