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How safe do you feel?

Thursday, June 07, 2018

As Western Railway approaches women commuters for feedback on security measures, Smita Rao asks a few commuters what they had to say about travelling by local train

In March 2017, women travelling in the second-class compartment of a Mumbai local between Churchgate and Dadar, had an unusual passenger for company—the World Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva. The World Bank funds the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) and the CEO was on a mission to find out from Mumbai’s women commuters what they needed to feel safer on trains.

“The women workforce is underutilised in India. It is important to provide them with safe commuting and mobility so that more women join the workforce,” she reportedly said at the time. She also pointed out that this would be possible by installing CCTV cameras and better lighting; increasing the policing and also creating awareness of the need to respect women so that they could commute fearlessly 24x7.

According to statistics at the time, women comprised 22% of all suburban passengers in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which worked out to more than 16 lakh women of the 75 lakh daily passengers. The Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal, declared 2018-2019 as the Year of Security of Women and Children and over the last few days, Western Railway has been organising camps at

various stations to receive feedback and suggestions on security measures and initiatives. The initiative involves senior lady officers interacting with lady commuters. Suggestion boxes have also been kept at camp locations. WR’s camps began at Bandra on June 4 and have so far been held at Bandra, Mumbai Central and Andheri. Two more are scheduled—today at Borivali and at Virar on June 8.

According to a Western Railway (WR) release, when the first camp was held at Bandra Local station with Dr. Anupama Verma of WR, 68 lady commuters provided their response and suggestions through feedback forms. While they expressed their appreciation for this initiative, they had several suggestions. These included checking vending activities inside ladies compartments, reserving more coaches for ladies in suburban trains, improving security arrangements in second-class compartments and providing escalators at Bandra station for senior citizens. Others also suggested that RPF be posted in second-class ladies compartments of all trains at night; CCTVs functioning in ladies compartments and better hygiene arrangements for all station premises.

We asked some regular commuters what they had to say…

Saili Vaidya Deputy Manager, Marketing,

Beyond Squarefeet Advisory Pvt. Ltd,  Thane

Travelling by train during the peak hour can be a nightmare. The trains are so crowded that one has to be a pro to even get into the train—especially the first-class ladies coach of the Central Railway. It is so crowded that one has to stand near the door. Unless you are travelling for work and do not have any other alternative it is best not to travel by train during the rush hours. Getting on and off the train can be a really difficult job. People tend to lean outside the door. When the train is crowded, leaning outside the door might lead you to collide with the electric poles or slip and fall off the train—not to forget pick-pocketers; crowded trains are a treasure for these people. Along with the crowd one has to even take care of people’s bags. Forget all the manners and be ready to push and get pushed. Finally it’s the survival of the fittest!

Apurva Powle IDBI Bank, Thane

Mumbai’s local trains give a whole new meaning to the concept of overcrowding. Trains are literally overflowing with commuters spilling out of the coach gambling with their lives during peak hours, with women facing a bigger problem due to  fewer coaches reserved for them. With more working women in today's times, there is an urgent requirement for overhaul of the infrastructure and increase in capacity by increasing the number of ladies’ coaches for ensuring safe travel for women. There also needs to be a greater representation of women ticket-checkers to check commuters without ticket and to restrain other unwanted elements.

Dr. Rohita Shetty

Senior Medical Advisor, Abbott Healthcare, Mulund

The problems we face while travelling include inconvenience in crowded trains, fear while travelling late at night in a new city, and the need for security measures such as a 24-hour helpline number that is available pan-India.

Sudha Menon

Banker, Navi Mumbai

We need neat and efficient services and checks on ticketless travel.

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