Why the Elphinstone Road station stampede was a tragedy waiting to happen

The Elphinstone Road tragedy today was waiting to happen and is just an accumulation of all the smaller unreported daily incidents at the very same bridge.

Published: 29th September 2017 05:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2017 06:01 PM   |  A+A-

A slipper of an injured commuter is seen stuck on the railing of a pedestrian bridge where a stampede took place at the Elphinstone station, in Mumbai. (AP)

Online Desk

It is a known fact that Mumbai is one of the most overcrowded metros in the country and with local trains being the lifeline, a tragedy is practically unavoidable. While every other railway platform in Mumbai has at least three bridges - front, middle and back, for proper distribution of crowd, there is only one narrow bridge connecting Elphinstone Road station to Parel railway station on which the unfortunate tragedy occurred today.     

While people get run over by trains daily on the Central and Western railway line, the Elphinstone Road bridge connecting both the suburban lines spells tragedy the moment you step on it because there is a constant fear of falling off onto the tracks as the width cannot accommodate more than a few hundred people at one particular point in time; especially during peak hours. 

Having been a traveller on the very same bridge for most of my life, a typical day at the Parel railway platform connecting Elphinstone bridge is a stampede, especially between 8 am and 11 am. Most men and women commuters jump off the moving train so that they can get up the bridge before the crowd clogs the stairway during peak hours. If you've been a traveller long enough, boarding the first coach is the wisest decision but if not a fall is unavoidable. 

As soon as one gets close to the bridge,  pushing aside people trying to step on the divided 6-foot wide stairwell is the primary task. Unfortunately, it's a case of survival of the fittest, and only three out of 10 people are able to make their way while the rest just resign and wait for the clutter to subside. Their incompetence is disallowed because one is met with the rush from the next train which comes in the next three minutes. 

The staircase is divided into a four feet space to ascend the bridge and the other two feet for people on the bridge to descend. Unfortunately, the peak hour rush is uncontrollable making people enter wherever they find space. 

The only measure taken by the Railways in the last few years is the positioning of two police officers near the bridge - two on the bridge and two on the railway platform usually to protect women from being inappropriately touched. Sadly, the positioned police officers are not of much help, as most often than not women anyway turn around to slap a man because he touched her. 

The crowd at the platform increases to such an amount that many commuters fear for their lives if people start pushing around as they would only fall onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train. 

Recently, in an attempt to bring about order, people immediately make a line to ascend the staircase but that too isn't much of help because they are pushed around by stronger travellers. 

The Elphinstone Road tragedy today was waiting to happen and is just an accumulation of all the smaller unreported daily incidents at the very same bridge. Many people have brought up the issue but it clearly shows how the government has been avoiding the safety of commuters even thogh we boast of being the largest railway network.       

India Matters


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