Reports: Concrete balls keeping some off Indonesian train roofs
A train passes through a newly installed iron support with hanging concrete balls in Indonesia last week.
January 23rd, 2012
01:04 PM ET

Reports: Concrete balls keeping some off Indonesian train roofs

Is the threat of getting their heads smashed by a concrete ball enough to prevent people from riding the roofs of Indonesian trains?

Depends on whom you ask.

"From our monitoring so far, the roofs of the trains have been clean (from riders) after the concrete balls were put in place,” a spokesman for state railway company Kereta Api Indonesia, Mateta Rizalulhaq, told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.

The devices erected over some train tracks are called Goal Bola-bola, or goal balls, as they resemble soccer goals with the grapefruit-sized concrete balls strung from chains. The balls are about 10 centimeters, or 4 inches, in diameter and are painted silver. They a strung in groups of a dozen each over each track. The first ones were deployed Tuesday.

But in a Globe report on Saturday, Eman Sulaiman, chief of the Bekasi city station, near which the first set of concrete balls were strung last week, said some people are still trying to ride, donning motorcycle helmets for protection.

Passengers are climbing onto roofs after trains pass the obstacles, according to a report Friday in the Jakarta Post.

Eman said more obstacles will be erected, with larger balls, the Globe reported.

“Roof surfers will hit the balls, and the balls are enough to crack someone’s head,” Eman is quoted as saying. [cnn-video url=""%5D

Yosep Adi Prasetyo, a spokesman for the National Commission on Human Rights, criticized the railway last week for deploying the balls, saying they could exact a harsh punishment for a minor infraction.

But railway spokesman Mateta said the balls are actually protecting riders, the Globe reported.

“Roofs of trains are from the onset not designed to support people, and there have been many victims already,” he is quoted as saying.

The Jakarta Post reported late Monday that a man fell off the roof of a train and was hit by a train traveling in the opposite direction, killing him instantly.

The balls will be used only on lines that run locomotives, according to a Globe report last week. Lines with electric trains will use swinging doors that will allow the electrical connectors through, but not roof riders.

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Filed under: Indonesia • Railroads • Transportation • World
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Bola Bulseye!

    When do they paint the numbers on the balls? 50 points for the center ball, 40 points for the ball left or right of center, then 30 points and so on...

    January 24, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Train Rider Skee Ball !!

      January 24, 2012 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sane Citizen

    Sounds like it is normal passengers climing up through a hatch. Perhaps this is because they don't air condition the train cars? Or is it because they pack them too full?

    January 24, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      them climbing though the hatch implies that they paid for an gained entry to the trains cabin.

      Thats not the case here. Here its people jumping onto slow moving trains to get a free ride.

      So adding more seats/cars and drastically lowering ticket prices while increasing security should help mitigate the free rider issues.

      However even if the tickets cost 1 penny people will still ride for free if they have the perception that its safe and they wont get caught. Instead of changing the perception of getting caught, the Indians decided to change the perception of safety, which in all likelyhood is a better motivator.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jack Tors

    Looks like some dude is lying on the ground after getting whacked by one of these things.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. jojo

    Electrifying the balls will take care of the helmet response.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      insulating and electrifying the roofs of the cars or a plate on the roof would take care of the ball problem

      January 24, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. HughMungus

    They should just charge roof-riders a higher ticket fee. Make the fee so high that no one in Indonesia can afford it. You know, $1?

    January 24, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      but its not about the fee's.

      They could charge 10 bucks, or 1 cent. The price makes no difference when its common knowledge Trains roofs= free ride.
      the people on the roofs are not people who just want to save a buck, its people who cannot afford the train. So raising or lowering ticket prices, or adding seats wont fully solve the issue. Then again issues like this can never be fully resolved, just mitigated to an acceptable standard.

      January 24, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rags

    Let's see what do we do today for excitement. If in Spain, find a very skinny street with a buch of bulls turned loose and see if you can outrun them. If in a place with a very high bridge, jump off it with a tiny string tied around one of you legs. If in Indonesia, ride on the top of a train and play 'whack-a-mole'.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. TriXen

    "Yosep Adi Prasetyo, a spokesman for the National Commission on Human Rights, criticized the railway last week for deploying the balls, saying they could exact a harsh punishment for a minor infraction."

    Isn't that common over there? Don't they cane people???

    January 24, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bryan

    some people are never happy.
    people fall of the roofs and get injured or die and people scream that something should be done.
    Something is done, and people yell and scream thats its too "extreme".
    Even if they did place seats on the roof, and require people be strapped in, that would still not the fact that the roofs were not made to support thousands of pounds. Nor will that have any effect on someone trying to steal a free ride.

    placing seats on the roof only maximizes profits, it does not impact the issue of "free rides".

    I think it would have worked better to put a thin membrane/plate on the roofs then pass an electrical current through it. All you would need to do is insulate the membrane or plate from the actual car. This method allows for the anti rider mechanism to be self contained on the train, which i would think would lower upkeep and maintenance costs, however the initial expense would be much higher.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. Me

    They should be lucky it wasn't my design. I would have put a 5-6 solid bars across. Like a fence. Let the roof riders hit that and see if a helmet helps.

    Riding the roof of a train is stupid and any injury you get from doing so, you deserve. Even if it
    s injury from a concrete ball hanging over the tracks.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      i totally agree.

      dont do the action if you cant handle the reaction.

      If you act by getting on the trains roof, you cant really complain when the train reacts with a solid object to remove you from said train.
      Maybe you should not have been on the train to begin with....Or maybe you should be better at dodging concrete balls...Either way the "ball" is the riders court now.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Seamus

    Never mind concrete a conductor up there with a ticket puncher and a bag of change. Get him in a safety harness. He can still sell tickets from such a lofty post. Guy gets up on the roof...there's a man waiting for him. Ticket, Sir? That'll be 40,000 rupiah, please...

    January 24, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. nepawoods

    Mumbai, India has something like 3,500 fatalities per year on their train system. That's almost 10 a day. If that happened for just a few days in a US city, the whole system would be shut down. The same value isn't placed on life everywhere.

    January 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Sumarto

      Totally agree Nepawood, peoples down there say: "Live is cheap" The bigger problem lay in the way government run the system. They have centralized system, that create urbanisation, more and more people move from far away town, village to the big city. Actually they started talking about spreading business (decentralize). It has been predicted city like Jakarta in 2014 will literally become parking lots everyday.

      January 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. George Sumarto

    The solution: Just provide more train, than people will gladly stay inside the train be sitting down or standup. This is commuter train, in and around big city, not long distance inter-city train, and the fee is minimal, affordable for all, that's why is always crowded. Adding more trains will definitely solve the problem.

    January 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sftommy

    Beat the poor in the head with a concrete ball – has GOP thought of this?

    January 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Danny Francis

    Why are the balls set so high ? Betterif they put solid barrier 30cm above height of train wouldn't you think ??

    January 25, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Harry Johnson

    Talk about balls to the face.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
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