Mumbai LocalAn overcrowded Mumbai Local

Travelling in a Mumbai local is a one-of-a-kind experience. The crowd, pushing and shoving and in some cases one can’t even get into the compartment.

Well, all that is now about to change. According to new rule passed by the railways, standing on the footboard will now be a punishable offence, attracting a jail term , fine of Rs 500 or both. According to a report by Mumbai Mirror, this move comes after the railways have been receiving innumerable complaints about train bullies and people standing on the footboard, preventing others from entering the compartment. So much so that the Protection Force (RPF) on Western Railway (WR) has formed special teams which that will be equipped to attend to distress calls from passengers onboard local trains.

The Western Railway officials told Mumbai Mirror that this move was in response to about 50 calls per day from passengers who could not board the train due to excessive crowd and people standing on the footboard.

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The RPF teams will consist of three officers per post and will be required to act instantly to messages received from the control room. Since the coaches will be manned, the passengers against whom the complaint has been received will be prosecuted under section 145 and 156 of the Railway Act. In fact, in the past one week about 41 passengers have been prosecuted and presented before a magistrate where they were required to pay a fine of Rs 500.

But this system is not without its own flaws. In certain cases the RPF personnel have not been able to contact the person who placed the complaint. A senior RPF official explained, in a statement to Mumbai Mirror, that at times by the time the team gets to the concerned coach to attend to the complaint, the passenger has already left or does not answer the phone. The official said that they are paying special attention to the calls made at Andheri, Borivali, Bhayandar and Bandra.

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The RPF are also planning to make the helpline 182 more responsive to the complaints of passengers and as per the RPF they are forming a team that will call back passengers calling 182 to get feedback. In a statement to Mumbai Mirror, a senior RPF official said, "At present, less than 20 per cent commuters respond to the calls made from us once their problem is resolved. But we are hoping that the number will go up and make the helpline more popular."

"We are looking at deploying staff that can travel and try to film these passengers creating nuisance on their cell phones. This will make it easier for us to prosecute them," He added. The Chief Public Relations Officer for the WR, Ravindra Bhakar, said in a statement, "Train bullies are a perennial problem and deployment of staff at each and every station is not possible. So we are acting effectively on the calls received on the helpline."