Ever heard of a nightmare? Travelling by a suburban local train in Mumbai at peak hours is nothing short of a battle that needs tremendous courage and mental strength.
Mumbaikars have an uncanny ability to pull off amazing life-threatening stunts, unintentionally though! Oblivious of their own hidden-strengths or talent to jump off or board a running train, people travelling by locals often put their lives at stake to either report to the office on time or to rank first in the mad rat race.
It may sound fun but it isn’t. Life in Mumbai is extremely unlike life in other metros. The suburban trains here are the city’s lifeline. Most people solely depend on these trains to commute and end up spending a substantial part of their day travelling in overcrowded coaches.
At peak hours, one can find an ocean of humanity almost spilling over platforms and people pushing each other in a bid to make it first atop the ladder (in this case to their respective destinations).
The recent tragedy at the Elphinstone station that has shocked the city, affirms the fact that the suburban rail system needs a major overhaul. At the Elphinstone station (Western line), a narrow staircase with a relatively broader passage connects Parel station on the Central Line. And the stairs are a little too narrow to accommodate the sea of humanity during peak hours even on a regular day. So, one can fathom what people must have gone through today when it poured heavily.
While discussing the unfortunate event with my colleagues, I was told that people were waiting on the platform to escape the thunderstorm. With the arrival of more passengers in the subsequent trains, the number of people on the platform increased manifold almost instantly. As soon as the rain stopped, people rushed up the stairs. Also, there were rumours (exact nature unknown though) causing panic among the crowd. This subsequently led to the stampede resulting in loss of lives and grave injuries to many.
The rail authorities cannot afford to wait any longer to make proper arrangements wherever necessary. The world applauds Mumbaikars for their spirit but the big question is – do they really have a choice?
Not too long ago, the city was under water owing to torrential rains and high-tide. The city bounced back to life the very next day.
The government and rail authorities need to pay specific attention to the needs of the people who belong to the financial capital of the nation. Life here can’t stop!
Commuting by suburban locals is a tough task but it isn’t all that worse either. People make friends for a lifetime, share pleasant and enriching memories and even make their local train journeys a blissful part of their everyday life.
Living here can be a lot better if some more life could be infused into Mumbai’s lifeline.