Mumbaiites are willing to pay more for improved railway services and the safety of passengers.
Around 68 lakh commuters use Mumbai’s suburban railway services every day, and, like every year, they have great hopes from the railway budget to be tabled in parliament today.
Many commuters are expecting a ticket fare hike, but they’re willing to put up with it provided it comes with quality service and improved passenger safety. “Presently, 5,000 to 6,000 passengers suffer death or injury on Mumbai’s tracks annually. No passenger can be sure his commute will be safe. Therefore, they would be willing to pay more if they are provided quality service and safety,” said Kailash Verma, a resident of Andheri and general secretary of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Sangh.
The city’s passenger associations gave a list of demands to railway minister Dinesh Trivedi during his recent visit to the city. Increasing the number of services to distant suburban stations, improving passenger safety, keeping the height of platforms and coaches to permissible limits, and more foot-over-bridges, are some of their key demands.
“Services on both Central and Western lines to far-off suburban stations should be increased, since many passengers are moving to northern part of the city owing to rising property prices. For this, the railways should reschedule the timetable, instead of waiting for new rakes to arrive,” said Madhu Kotian, member of Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee.
Advocate Chhangur Chauhan, a Wadala resident, said: “The Harbour line connects three key local bodies, BMC, NMMC and Panvel council, and has the major ‘airport project’ but it is totally neglected. A special allocation should be made in this budget to start a fast corridor on the line.”
Widening existing FOBs and installing escalators are among the other passenger demands . “On overcrowded stations like Dadar, Kurla and Andheri, where there is no scope for new FOBs, the existing FOB’s width should be increased and escalators should be installed,” said AV Shenoy, transport activist.