The ongoing Railways mega block has resulted in three casualties because of overcrowding. Three people fell from the local train and lost their lives yesterday. Unfortunately, this is very familiar to the millions of commuters taking Mumbai’s lifeline to and from work every day.
It is not just mega blocks that result in these disasters. The local train system is a ticking time bomb — the huge rush, the mad scramble to get on the train, peak hour travel where sometimes one is hanging out of the train and holding on to a handle for dear life — these have become so commonplace that Mumbaikars don’t even think of the perils involved in commuting like this.
As the New Year brings promises of faster trains and air-conditioned locals from the Railways, maybe it is time for the authorities to think about having coaches with closing doors like they do in metros and in the West.
The doors could close after a set amount of people get into the train, minimising the amount of people travelling on footboards, hanging, being pushed out of compartments, or getting hit by poles and falling to their deaths.
This of course, is easier said than done, given the throngs of people on platforms, especially during peak hours. Yet, with the Railways itself seeking to modernise itself, it is certainly worthwhile considering automatic doors.
Cynics have said that the trains would be forever stationed at platforms because they would never be able to move, as the doors would never shut. These problems have to be anticipated and ironed out by experts. Considering that so many fatalities are a result of overcrowding, automatic doors may be the way to go for train upgradation and safety.