We don't want bullet train, we need better railways - this is the title of an online petition started by two HSC students from Ruia college, Shreya Chavan and Tanvi Mhapankar, friends of Maitri Shah, 17, who recently died after falling off a moving local train. While the petition was started in the wake of the Elphinstone Road stampede, taking Shah's death as an example, the two are stressing on bringing about an overall overhaul in railway facilities.

Maitri Shah
Maitri Shah

Being the change
The petition on Change.org states, "Statistically speaking, nine people die every day on the tracks of Mumbai. In such a scenario, the funding for the not-needed Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train should be put into improving conditions of local trains. It's not development if it's not beneficial to the majority population …adding railway tracks, extending foot overbridges, adding coaches to trains - if a normal individual can come up with such mediocre ideas, the railway department can definitely find better ways to improve facilities. It's not that changes haven't been made, but evidently, these aren't sufficient for the present population. Hence, please sign the petition so that the government makes the necessary changes."

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"It was raining heavily that day - September 19 - when Maitri was in a train. She fell between Borivli and Dahisar and died on the spot. It shocked us… for us, until then, such incidents were just daily news. Since then, it's been on our mind to do something to change the situation. So many Mumbaikars travel by trains daily, and collegians form a huge chunk of the commuters," said Mhapankar, a resident of Dahisar.

Chavan said, "Just a few days after we lost Maitri, we'd been discussing doing something, taking some action, when the Elphinstone tragedy happened. And we realised how grave the problem was. Hence, we started the petition, which will be sent to the PM, CM and railway minister. The support we are receiving is great."

Family support
Shah's family too is giving ample support to the two girls. Her elder sister Kreena said, "We hope that this brings some change in the situation. We want basic needs of commuters fulfilled, rather than fancy services like the bullet train."

She added, "Maitri tried to board a Virar-bound train originating from Andheri. But even at the starting point she could not board it. Then, she had to take the regular Virar Fast coming from Churchgate. We guess she was not able to go inside the compartment properly."

14k
Number of signatures the petition has received so far


Also read: Photos: Raj Thackeray and family at a rally to protest the Elphinstone stampede

Elphinstone stampede