Observing that women suffer more rail-related accidents than men, the Bombay High Court said the Railways should consider allotting a separate first class coach for women commuters in all suburban trains.
Presently, one-fourth of three coaches are reserved for women who have first class tickets or season passes. Three-fourth of three coaches are earmarked as second class women’s compartments.
“Why can’t the Railways allot a full coach for ladies travelling in first class? For one month, the Railways should try it,” a division bench of Justices N H Patil and G S Kulkarni said.
The bench was hearing two PILs – one by Thane resident Vikrant Tawde seeking judicial inquiry into the Elphinstone Road stampede incident and another filed by Smita Mayank Dhruva, president of Indian National Congress’ South Mumbai division seeking that the Railways take measures for better crowd management.
“There are so many women travelling in trains to commute to work and go back home. In fact, women suffer from railway-related accidents more than men,” Justice Kulkarni said.
The court had, last week, sought to know from the national transporter if it could elevate tracks in low-lying areas which are prone to water-logging during monsoons.
To this, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the Railways, told the court that even if the tracks were raised, the problem of water-logging would persist due to poor drainage system.
The court also asked the Railways to carry out fresh and periodic audits of all its bridges. Referring to the Andheri bridge collapse on July 3, the court said, “If regular audits are done, such incidents could be avoided”.
The bench noted that increasing population was putting a heavy burden on the city’s existing infrastructure and that authorities have to plan keeping future demands in mind.
“Infrastructure in Mumbai continues to remain the same even when there is so much development. In fact, the Union and state government should now consider introducing sea transport,” Justice Patil said.
“Why can’t the authorities take advantage of Mumbai’s coastline? All the corners of the city can be connected via sea commute,” he said.
The bench has posted the petitions for further hearing after two weeks.