Mumbai: Women commuters slam Railways in its own survey

Updated: 08 November, 2019 07:50 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR)'s tall claims fall flat as almost 90 per cent women are dissatisfied with the infrastructure on Virar-Dahanu and Neral-Karjat sections as per MRVC survey

Nearly half the women interviewed have survived or witnessed harassment and threats in and outside railway stations. File pic
Nearly half the women interviewed have survived or witnessed harassment and threats in and outside railway stations. File pic

A survey of women travellers between Virar and Dahanu and Neral and Karjat by the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has poured water over the tall claims made by both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR). It has found that over 45 per cent women feel unsafe, with almost 90 per cent being dissatisfied with the infrastructure.

Women commuters said they were dissatisfied with deplorable infrastructure at railway stations with slippery staircases, stinking toilets, location of ladies compartments, accessibility to the station, and no improvement from railways despite complaints. About 1,009 women commuters were interviewed for the report, which was uploaded on the MRVC website and then hurriedly taken down.

The report, a copy of which mid-day has, stated that on the Virar-Dahanu section, 45 per cent women have seen or have survived harassment or threats in and around the stations, wherein men boarding ladies coaches is a common offence. Only one-fourth of such women have registered complaints with the police or with the station staff. On the Neral-Karjat section, four out of 10 commuters have seen or have survived harassment or threats, with men often boarding ladies coaches here too. Here, 60 per cent of the women approached the station staff.

Half of the women on WR and 13% of them on CR have used Railway's Women Safety Helpline number. Awareness and usage of the helpline is quite low.

Outside railway stations, women commuters complained about accessibility issues such as, unauthorised food stalls and vendors, and over-crowded, dirty lanes. They also feel that there are not enough ticket windows and that ATVMs are inconvenient, mostly due to improper functioning. 

While inside the stations, women on both lines find staircases slippery and washrooms dirty.

Half of the CR commuters find the washrooms hygienic, but not the drinking water. On CR, four out 10 commuters also find that stations and FOBs are not well-let.

"I put the entire blame on the state government as they have been developing new townships and not thinking about transport. Today, a large number of women, equal to that of men, step out of their homes for work, but look at the number of ladies compartments vis a vis general ones. When we, as passenger associations, approach the police, they too are helpless as they are understaffed," Lata Argade, a passenger association member said.

"The assurances given during the budget are never fulfilled. Only 25 per cent work is actually done. Security for women is not adequate and due to overcrowding, at least two women fall every day. Cops just stand by and say they that they do not have enough manpower," Vandana Sonawane, woman passenger activist said.

The MRVC tried to cover up by saying that the Gender Report 2019 on women commuters was still in its preliminary stages and incomplete and was uploaded on the website by mistake. "The report needs to be processed further to get an authentic picture of the survey conducted," an MRVC official said.

1,009 - No. of women interviewed by MRVC for survey

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First Published: 08 November, 2019 07:40 IST

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