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Indonesia: Lethal deterrent for 'train surfers'

Indonesia has gone to imaginative extremes to try to stop commuters from illegally riding on the roofs of trains, including hosing down offenders with red paint, threatening them with dogs and appealing for help from religious leaders.

Now authorities have an intimidating and possibly deadly new tactic: suspending rows of grapefruit-sized concrete balls to rake over the top of trains as they pull out of stations or go through rail crossings. "We've tried just about everything, even putting rolls of barbed wire on the roof, but nothing seems to work," said Mateta Rizahulhaq, a spokesman for the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api. "Maybe this will do it."

The first balls were installed yesterday at a station outside Jakarta.

Trains are often overcrowded and many passengers clamber to the roof to escape packed carriages. Some do so to avoid paying fares, others are thrill-seeking "rail surfers".