After the High Court asked railways to reserve seats for the elderly, authorities are grappling with what changes to make in existing local trains, which already have earmarked seats for senior citizens
The Bombay High Court has asked the railways to find solutions to make travelling on local trains easier for senior citizens. But railway authorities are at their wits’ end on how to approach the problem.
While there are seats set aside for senior citizens, during rush hour it becomes impossible for the elderly to reach them due to the crowds. File pic
Hearing a petition last week by a senior citizen, A B Thakkar, who wrote that while there were seats reserved for senior citizens, it is almost impossible to reach them, the HC asked the railways to submit an affidavit on how to tackle the issue.
The railway officials in Mumbai claim they do not know what more can be done, as there are already seats meant for senior citizens inside coaches. Sources at Western Railway say that a whole lot of changes need to be implemented if senior citizens expect a separate coach.
“Some other group, namely the general compartment, will have to make way for senior citizens, if that is what is needed. There are already earmarked coaches meant for senior citizens, but people take away those seats,” said a railway official, on condition of anonymity.
Authorities also called for cooperation from the public and asked them to give way for senior citizens to occupy seats meant for them. While people usually offer seats to an elderly person, this is not the case during peak hours, when everyone is rushing to get a place to sit. The railways are now stating that they will examine and study what the HC has said and then decide on the future course of action.
Meanwhile, the Central Railway authorities claim that any changes in coach format means it would take at least five years for them to make these arrangements for senior citizens. Also, the incoming batch of 72 new Bombardier rakes will not have special provisions for senior citizens, as it would necessitate changes in design.
There is also a question of alternative entry and exit points for senior citizens, as people normally jump inside the trains. Thus, it becomes very difficult for senior citizens to enter coaches with peace. Moreover, the railways do not have statistics based on the age of a passenger, which simply means that senior citizens are part of the overall passenger list.
Number of seats reserved for senior citizens in the general compartments