mid-day editorial: Let's be responsible commuters

This newspaper’s report last week of a man falling from an overcrowded train — a video of which went viral — has shocked the railway authorities into action. Commuters have started demanding more services. The railway police have formed committees to monitor people blocking the doors.

The city’s crowds are extremely challenging, especially for the Railways, since Mumbai is a commuting city. Demand, of course, exceeds supply (numbers), so there are always going to be problems.

One cannot put the onus solely on the Railways or the police. As commuters this incident must act as a spur to demonstrate more responsible behaviour on the platforms and, of course, in trains so to not strain an already overstretched system.

Crossing tracks continues despite numerous deaths, warnings, fines. There is no excuse for people who are willing to put life and limb at risk to save five or ten minutes of walking to an overhead bridge, however cumbersome or time consuming that may be. There are commuters who ride overhead, clambering atop compartments for a lark. The fact that high-tension overhead wires have claimed lives is apparently not enough of a deterrent.

Just days after the video of Bhavesh Nakate’s fall from the train, a young man was seen doing stunts on a train, hanging on to bars and cavorting on the footboard even as commuters looked on in shock.

Sometimes, we see mindless pushing at platforms. Even though it is possible to board the train quickly in a civilized manner, dangerous pushing and pulling ensues. Fights break out inside compartments, and, in fact bullying is prevalent, the train lout is not a figment of the imagination but very real. The train at peak hours can be a very intimidating space for non-regular commuters.

Let people make a concerted effort to co-operate not just with the railway police, but show some humane behaviour, towards each other and take responsibility for one’s life. It is this in the end, which will also go a long way in curbing tragedies on the track.

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