The Bombay High Court came down heavily on Railways for ignoring safety of passengers in suburban trains and asked authorities to consider approaching investors at ‘Make in India’ week for setting up an elevated rail corridor to ease pressure on existing western and central railway routes.
“How long will you continue to depend on the Railway Board…Why don’t you consider setting up of an elevated rail corridor?” asked a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil.
“Many investors are in city for the ‘Make in India’ programme. You may approach them,” suggested the bench which was hearing a suo motu PIL, converted out of a letter written by a passenger A B Thakker, seeking reservation of a separate compartment for senior citizens in local trains.
The High Court also asked the Maharashtra Government to step in and help the Railways in augmenting its capacity which would help in providing safe travel for commuters.
Justice Naresh Patil also raised a query whether the Railways were reluctant to go in partnership with another authority to augment its capacity. However, the Railways said they did not have any such problem.
The bench was of the view that the Railways should give priority to Mumbai Rail suburban routes because more than 50 lakh commuters travel every day from home to workplace and back and also because many people get killed while falling off from trains due to heavy rush in peak hours.
“This should have been considered 25 years ago but unfortunately there was no planning done, as a result we see a situation where urgently something needs to be done to bring down the pressure on the existing rail network on suburban routes,” the bench said.
A railway report, presented to the court, said many people fall down from trains at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Thane, Mumbra and Kalyan stations and hence it was proposed to increase frequency of trains in this corridor of central railway.
Regarding reduction of gaps between the footboard of trains and stations to prevent commuters from slipping and falling on the tracks, the Railways said steps have been initiated at some stations to increase the height of the platforms.
Rajiv Chavan of Help India Foundation, an NGO, which has raised issue of women’s safety and other facilities at railway stations by intervening in the petition, said a survey conducted by them indicated that conditions of washrooms at platforms have become better.