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Mumbai's local trains are involuntarily doubling up as maternity wards

Local trains in Mumbai have involuntarily become a place to deliver babies, as 19 children have been born on trains in the last two years, records maintained by the Government Railway Police (GRP) reveal.


Local born: This baby girl was born in a train at Vasai Road in July

In 2012, seven babies were born on the local trains. This year, 12 children came into the world on a train. The crowded roads and traffic jams mean that women are unable to reach the hospitals on time, leading to such circumstances.


Illustration/ Amit Bandre

However, railway authorities wish to reduce such cases. “We are planning to start an announcement system on railway platforms for such passengers. We will ask them not to board the train, if they’re in the last stages of their pregnancy. It becomes a problem for the passengers and it's also dangerous for the mother and the child,” said a senior official from Central Railway.

He added that the railways were apprehensive about such cases because during emergencies, if passengers are unable to give medical help, it may become a serious issue.

Births on the go
On September 24, Asha Das (20), a resident of Nallasopara boarded the train from the suburb, and went into labour at Virar. She delivered a baby boy inside the local, which was made to stand on platform number 8 until the delivery.

In July, a pregnant woman on her way to Borivli to get herself admitted to a hospital went into labour at Vasai Road station. The train was stopped for 25 minutes at Vasai Road. Three nurses travelling in the same compartment helped deliver the baby girl.

Airplanes don’t allow heavily pregnant women onboard. But the railways cannot restrict passengers from boarding. “This is public transport and one of the cheapest and safest modes of commuting. We cannot ask passengers not to board trains, even when they are in such a condition,” said an official from Western Railway.

Born aboard abroad, travel free for life!
There have been cases of babies being born on trains in other countries too. As a goodwill gesture, the train authorities there decided to gift a lifetime travel pass to the baby.

Germany: In August this year, a baby girl was born on a on a high-speed regional train in Leipzig, Saxony after her mother went into labour. Because no doctor was available on the train, two women helped deliver the baby. The train authorities presented the baby with a lifelong pass to travel in Saxony.

Mexico: Earlier this year in May, labour kicked in for a 22-year-old pregnant woman on her way to the hospital. She was trying to board a subway train in Mexico City, and delivered a baby boy at the entryway to the platform at Pantitlán station. The mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Ancera, declared that the baby could travel for free on the subway train for life.

Not in this country...
While passengers here have made similar demands, railway authorities rule out such a possibility. Atul Rane, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, said, “We don’t have a provision for giving benefits like free passes. In such situations, we make the maximum efforts to provide the women access to medical facilities and send them to the nearest government hospital.”  

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