Railways are considered as the lifeline of Mumbai. Everyday, the city’s suburban trains carry around six million passengers. The trains get overcrowded during the peak hours in morning and evening as officegoers and students try to enter inside it. The capacity of the train is only 1,500 passengers but it increases to 8,500 during the peak hours which prove fatal for commuters. Many times people try to board an overcrowded train as they stand on footboards. Later, many of them fall on the tracks after being hit by the poles. The worst part is that these commuters don’t even receive first-aid treatment for several hours. Often several passengers lose their lives as they don’t get any treatment during the golden hour. Golden hours means the hour immediately following traumatic injury in which medical treatment to prevent irreversible damage and optimise the chance of survival is most effective.
Sometimes commuters fall from the trains while trying to board a running train. The alarming rise in the number of accidents puts a question mark about the efficiency of railways.
Many times, commuters behave as if it was the last train of the day and they make every attempt to board it. Since ambulances are not available at several stations hence commuters don’t even get the treatment in time. As per rules, the railways have to send the accident victim to the nearest hospital available within 5 km radius. But often this is not done due to the lackadaisical attitude of the railways. If a government hospital was not found in a radius of five kilometres, the victim has to be admitted to a private hospital with the railways bearing the cost of the treatment. Often railways fail to take an initiative and pass the buck.
Last month, Monika More (16) had lost her both arms after falling off a moving train at Ghatkopar, an eastern suburb. She fell in the gap between the platform and footboard on the tracks. Monica was rushed to hospital by two commuters in an auto rickshaw. On the other hand, the Railway officials washed their hands off by failing to provide ambulances. Doctors who were treating Monica said that she would have lost her life due to excessive bleeding if she had not been rushed to hospital. The railways have categorized Monica More’s accident as a case of trespassing, raising the hackles of activists.
Even as help was pouring in for Monica through the week, 31-year-old electrician Tanvir Shaikh lost both legs when he slipped through the gap between the platform and a coach at Kurla station on Wednesday evening. As per a survey, it was found that Kurla and Kalyan on the central route and the stretch between Jogeshwari and Borivali on the Western route are the deadliest zones where more accidents occur.
In order to defend itself both, Western Railway and Central Railway filed separate affidavits in the Bombay High Court held the passenger responsible for the rising railway accidents but they failed to mention anything about increasing the height of platforms. They mentioned that overcrowding, impatient passengers and expensive bus fares responsible for the poor travelling conditions in the metropolis. According to them, the BEST bus fares were 6 to 7 times higher than railways which forces people to opt for commuting in suburban trains. They suggested that bus fares must be reduced and brought in tandem with the trains which will provide people another alternative for commuting. Instead of blaming the commuters for rail accidents railways must take steps to ensure the safety of passengers while commuting.
They should raise the height of platforms and provide ambulances at all the stations so that large number of lives could be saved during emergency. They could also start a trauma care centre at the station itself which will provide the victim with necessary first aid before he is taken to hospital. Finally, commuters too should behave responsibly and should not be in a hurry to catch running trains which is responsible for many mishaps. They must use overbridge and avoid crossing tracks. They should refrain from commuting in crowded trains and board the next train. Passengers should avoid commuting on footboards of trains as there is a possibility of them falling on the tracks. Railways have already started raising the height of platforms at some stations. Finally, railway accidents can be reduced if passengers and railways take some initiative to avoid mishaps.