In a first, nar­row And­heri stair­case marked ‘ladies only’ dur­ing peak hrs

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Man­thanK.Me­hta @times­group.com

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.

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