Roof-riding, or rail-surfing, is a regular occurrence as the ageing rail network struggles to handle the number of passengers trying to use it. To avoid the cramped conditions inside the trains many people clamber on top of the carriages. There are those also who adopt this airy, view-laden position merely to avoid paying the fare for their journey, and those who do it just for fun too.
The balls, the first of which have been installed just outside a train station outside the country’s capital city Jakarta, dangle above the trains carriages and threaten those who want a vantage-point seat with a nasty blow to the head.
A spokesman for the state owned railway company PT Kereta Api has said the move comes as a last resort – they have tried rolls of barbed wire on the train roofs and paint guns to mark offenders – to try to discourage people from roof-riding.
“There are laws prohibiting passengers from riding on top of trains because it is very dangerous for both them and the operation of the trains.”
Passengers though say the blame lies with the antiquated railway system which has a lack of rolling stock and is frequently hit by delays.
“I don’t think it will last long,” a roof surfer has told the Associated Press. “They have tried everything to keep us from riding… but in the end we always win.”
In 2008 53 people were killed while travelling on the roof of a train, and 11 people were killed last year.