Indonesia: Concrete balls hung above rail tracks to stop ‘train surfers’

In their latest bid to stop people riding on top of crowded trains, railway officials in Indonesia have begun hanging heavy concrete balls over train tracks.

The balls, named by state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api the "Goal Bola-bola" (Goal Balls), are hung on chains from a metal frame much like a goal post, the Jakarta Post reported. Hung slightly only higher than train roofs, they are designed to swing into "anything that happens to be on top of the train."

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Each ball is around the size of a grapefruit and "could deliver serious blows to the head," according to the Associated Press.

The first of them were hung this morning near a train station just outside the capital, Jakarta. Others are due to be installed at railway crossings. If successful, Kerata Api plans to expand the scheme, spokesman Mateta Rizahulhaq told the AP.

"We’ve tried just about everything, even putting rolls of barbed wire on the roof, but nothing seems to work. Maybe this will do it."

According to the BBC, people daily ride on top of Indonesia's overcrowded trains, especially to and from the center of Jakarta. Some are seeking a seat, some don't have the money to pay for a ticket, and others simply enjoy the thrill of "train surfing."

The practice can be extremely dangerous: roof riders risk falling off while the train is moving or getting electrocuted by overhead power lines.

Despite the dangers, none of the train companies' efforts to deter surfers have yet succeeded. From the Press Association:

Several years ago, paint guns were set up to spray those riding on the top of carriages so authorities could identify and round up the guilty travelers. But roof riders destroyed the equipment soon after. The exhortations of clerics did not work. Neither did using guard dogs.

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