Crush hour: 410 suffocated to death in local trains this year

Railway data accessed by mid-day reveals that  morning and evening peak hours offer the worst conditions to travel, with no space and air to breath

After watching the viral video of 21-year-old Bhavesh Nakate falling to his death from a crowded train, commuters have truly come to fear the dangers of hanging from a packed coach. But if you assume that you’re safe once you manage to get inside, think again.

Also read: RPF flops at 'supervising' rush hour in Mumbai locals

Raiway commuters
Cops have now launched a programme to try and persuade commuters to skip a crowded train and take the next one instead, but citizens say the only solution is to increase the frequency of services. File pic

This year alone, 410 people have died from suffocation and heart attacks in Mumbai locals — and this is only the death toll till October.

A senior railway officer told mid-day, “Most of the deaths occur during the morning and evening peak hours. Trains are extremely crowded then, because of which people suffer from heart attack and suffocation. Commuters who collapse are taken to hospital where doctors declare the cause of death.”

Also read: Mumbai train accidents - People do not care about their lives, says railway constable

Railway statistics accessed by mid-day also revealed that a total of 468 commuters died in Western and Central railway trains last year. CR, in particular, racked up the most number of deaths due to cramped trains — in both this year and the last, CR witnessed at least 60% more deaths due to suffocation and heart attacks in trains. Worst affected areas are Kalyan (85 deaths this year) in the CR route, and Vasai (39 deaths) in WR.

A railway officer said, “Several people get badly crushed during peak hours. There is no space, no air. Maximum number of such deaths are on CR. People get completely trapped. If a commuter boards a Virar train or Kalyan, Dombivli, Karjat, Kasara trains, there is no space to move. The condition is same in the first class compartment.”

Voices
Durgesh Jadhav, Titwala resident
Durgesh Jadhav

The major reason for this problem is that trains do not run on time. People travelling long distances take fixed trains; if the train is delayed, a large crowd gathers and commuters clash. 

Salim Chunawala, Nalasopara resident
Salim Chunawala

We are badly affected during peak hours. I have personally seen people falling from the train. The condition is the same across second class, first class and ladies’ compartments. There is no place in the handicapped coach either.  

Rizwan Khan, Mira Road resident
Rizwan Khan

I am a doctor and have early morning appointments twice or thrice a week. So I generally don’t come home the previous night and stay at the Prince Ali Khan hospital in Mazgaon, where I work. I do this to avoid the morning rush hour as frequency of trains is too less.

Balwant Solanki, Dahisar resident
Balwant Solanki
Travelling south in the morning and returning in the evening is next to impossible. Sometimes I just stand at stations and watch trains go by.  

HC raps Railways for deaths

On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court rapped the Railways for their lackadaisical approach towards the safety of passengers of suburban local trains. The court was hearing a PIL over the death of 21-year-old Bhavesh Nakate who died on November 27, after failing from a crowded train. “These deaths will continue unless the Railways do something immediately. Nobody is taking it seriously, for the Railways it is just another death. There is complete lack of vision and planning,” the court had said.

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