In a first, narrow Andheri staircase marked ‘ladies only’ during peak hrs
Mumbai: For the first time in the city’s suburban railway network, a staircase has been reserved for women commuters at Andheri station during peak hours.
The Churchgate-facing staircase down to platforms 8 and 9 from the south foot overbridge (FOB) has been reserved for women as it lands close to the women’s compartments. The Virar-facing staircase remains open to all.
The arrangement is in place for more than an hour in the evening, and for half an hour in the morning.
This experiment is being undertaken after the Elphinstone road FOB stampede killed 23 people. “The south FOB at Andheri station, which connects to platforms 8 and 9, is very narrow. On this platform, locals originating from Andheri to Virar and back are operated,” said a senior Western Railway official. It is a very crowded route.
From October 2, WR has introduced six services from the platform. Four locals arrive from Virar in the morning, and two depart in the evening at 6.45pm and 6.50pm from this platform. They join the two that used to depart in the evening earlier.
The FOB is hardly two metres wide and the staircase one metre. The platform is barely 5m wide. “We had to take this step as there is a stampede-like situation. Many commuters wait for these two trains inste- ad of going to other platforms to board Virar fast trains coming overcrowded from Churchgate and Bandra,” the official added.
The only solution, he said, was to segregate male and female passengers using the platform. “We have deputed a team of 10-15 constables on the FOB to stop men from using the staircase reserved for women during the specified period,” he added.
Women commuters have welcomed the initiative. “It is huge relief as women find it difficult to navigate through crowded spaces,” said Bhayander resident Shruti Shah. “Such initiatives should be introduced at other crowded stations too,” demanded Vrushali Parable, another commuter on the route.
Railway officials said the reservation is for a smaller duration in the morning as they have noticed that the evening crowds are bigger than in the morning. “During the evening peak hours, the crowd coming from Virar to Andheri (the non-peak route) is also substantial as many prefer to switch to the Metro network. So we have sizeable crowds coming up as well as going down the staircase simultaneously,” one of them explained.