The Western Railway told the Bombay High Court that it was not possible for them to provide a separate compartment for senior citizens in suburban local trains.
This was stated in an affidavit filed by Ashok Tiwari, Divisional Commercial Manager of Western Railway, in response to a High Court suggestion that a scheme be evolved to reserve seats for senior citizens in suburban trains as the existing facility was not sufficient to accommodate the elders.
The suggestion was given by the High Court in April this year on a letter written by A B Thakker urging for a direction to the authorities to reserve space for elders in local trains. The letter was converted into a PIL by the court.
A bench of Justice Abhay Oka today directed that the Union Ministry of Social Justice be made a respondent to the PIL which had also prayed for an interim relief that the elders should be provided a separate cabin or they may be allowed to travel in compartment for disabled in local trains.
The Railway affidavit said it would be difficult to provide a separate compartment for senior citizens because most of the people were office-goers travelling from suburbs to town in the morning peak hours and vice versa while returning home in the evening.
Separate compartments have already been provided by the Railways for women and disabled after getting the approval of the Railway Board. There is also a separate luggage compartment for commuters to carry their belongings, the affidavit further said.
Reserving a separate compartment for senior citizens would necessitate reduction in space for the travelling general public. Earmarking bogies for first class and disabled occupies 31 per cent of the space of each rake. Additionally earmarking compartments for senior citizens will curtail space for second class general passengers, the affidavit said.
Despite increasing coaches in local trains from nine to 12, the crowd during peak hours had not come down and still about 400 commuters travel in each coach, the Railways contended.