Only a few women commuters travelled on the Western Railway’s first suburban train to be installed with automatic closing doors (ACD), on Sunday.
While the women’s first class compartment fitted with ACDs failed to get much footfall, the doors definitely grabbed eyeballs. The ACDs have been fit on pilot basis, to see if they reduce the number of deaths on tracks. Around 900 of the 3,000 deaths caused by railway accidents in the city every year are caused by passengers falling off trains.
Barring a few technical glitches, the automatic closing doors operated smoothly. (Satish Bate/HT photo)
Barring a few technical glitches, the ACDs operated smoothly on Sunday. But railway officials said the real challenge will start when the women’s first class compartments get crowded.
There is also concern about ventilation inside the compartment, when doors close on a crowded coach that is not air-conditioned. It has also been pointed out that no advance warning is given when doors are being shut.
“The new system will surely help control accidents, over-crowding. Commutes will be safe for women, but absence of sensors could cause serious accidents. A timer, or alerts while closing of the door should be introduced,” said Digna Popat, one of the first passengers to board the automatic door rake at Dadar.
Railway authorities had chosen non-peak hours to run four services with the train between Churchgate and Borivli. During its journey, only five women commuters boarded the compartments. The doors opened only after the train had come to a complete halt, causing confusion among several first class passengers.
To assist commuters on the trial run, railway authorities deputed two ticket checkers and technicians along with an engineer in the women’s compartment. “Lack of sensors and absence of announcements is risky. Also, during peak hours, with over-crowding, the coach will be suffocating,” said Neha Naharia, Vile parle resident.
A railway source said that for the next few days, the train will ply only in non-peak hours, to avoid any major troubles.
“Suburban services will be run with the train for next few days,” said WR chief public relations officer Sharat Chandrayan, adding changes will be made to the system based on feedback received.