But Do They Really Mean It?

30 April 2010 |  by

Taking the train yesterday, I noticed posted in the car another sign warning passengers that it’s illegal to walk on the train tracks. Right beneath this, on the very same sign, is a caution that talking on a cell phone while walking on the tracks can distract you and get you killed. As you can see below (click on that picture for a larger view), it is the second of the two photos, the one that accompanies the warning about talking on your cell phone, that depicts a train hitting a pedestrian.

Here we have, built right into a single sign, the apparent ambivalence of railroad authorities about keeping pedestrians off the tracks. The two messages, accompanied by the two photos, seem to say, “Look, this is illegal, but we’ve resigned ourselves tot the fact that you still are going to walk on the tracks, so at least don’t talk on your phone while you’re doing it.” The fact that it’s only the picture accompanying the message not to talk on your cell phone that shows a person getting hit by a train just compounds the message that merely walking on the tracks isn’t actually all that dangerous.

A sign warns in English and Telugu, "Walking on Railway Track is an Offence...Usage of Cell Phone may lead to diverting the concentration and destroying your Life Please avoid". The accompanying photos show a person both walking on the tracks and talking on a phone, getting him hit by a train in the second photo.

I realize that both photos show the same fellow happily chatting away on his phone. In fact, it looks like they’ve pasted the same exact figure from the first photo into the second photo. I think this just complicates the message even further. I’d be interested to hear what you all think about what’s going on with this sign and with the two types of signs I talked about in “Make the Footpath by Walking”. Feel free to comment below!


  1. Hi, the images are similar. Seems to me that the railway authorities have followed the road transport authorities’ drive against the use of mobile phones while driving on the roads. Hence, the message you can walk on the tracks, as long as you don’t talk on your phone or chat with your friends.

    • I agree that the bottom part of the poster does that, but it seems to conflict with the top part of the poster, which says walking on the tracks at all is an offense.

  2. yaa that person is happy in talking even though train is comig behind him,
    this MMTS trains are very speed and what is that red and orange one behind him. it is trains banner of he kept ok then any house bagundi

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