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Concrete balls keep people off train roofs

JAKARTA, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Indonesian officials say they hope concrete balls suspended 10 inches above trains will keep commuters from riding on train roofs during rush hour.

The first "goal balls" -- about 4 inches in diameter and painted silver -- were installed this week a few hundred yards from a train station outside Jakarta, CNN reported.

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The balls -- 12 of them above the tracks in each direction hanging from a steel frame resembling a soccer goal -- would be hard for anyone atop the trains to avoid.

"From our field reports so far, there have been no roof riders on that line since we installed them," said Mateta Rizahulhaq, a spokesman for the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api.

It's not the first attempt to keep commuters from climbing atop trains during rush hour, when the carriages are packed.

"Policing passengers has been going on in various ways for so long," Rizahulhaq said. "Starting with oil on the roof, using barbed wire, spraying dyed water, dogs, advice from religious leaders -- none of these were effective."

While critics call the latest method extreme, Rizahulhaq said, "It's not that we do not have humanity, but from the time someone gets up on the top of the train, they just do not value their life anymore."

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About 500,000 commuters rely on the railway system to travel within the greater Jakarta area.

Some "train surfers" climb atop carriages to get free rides or for a thrill -- and such rides result in one or two deaths a month, officials say.

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