It isn’t easy to board Mumbai’s overcrowded suburban local trains. So to grab a seat on south-bound trains in the morning peak hours, many commuters say they have no option but to court a fair amount of risk. Though dangerous, several commuters from Thane and Kalwa prefer to board the trains near the Kalwa car shed, much before the trains reach the Thane railway station, the starting point. Risking their life and limb, these commuters walk along the tracks to board the trains near the car shed, where the trains halt at a signal. They say it is a far safer way to get into the trains than boarding overcrowded trains at railway stations.
“Even the motormen and railway authorities are aware of this,” said Sanjay Babar (48), a commuter from Thane. “At the stations, people don’t let us enter the trains and push us out. That’s why we board the trains from the Kalwa car shed,” said Rohit Sharma (19).
Several commuters from Kalwa complained that by the time the slow train reaches Kalwa, it is packed to capacity and during peak hours it is next to impossible to get into the train. Till the time the train reaches Thane, from where it is set to leave for the CSMT, there is no place even to stand.
Commuters from Kalwa, who are in a hurry to reach their destinations, board the train from the car shed not only because of the crowd but also because of the low frequency of trains arriving at the station. “Everybody wants to be on time, everyone is in a hurry. No one realises the risks involved,” said Dileep Singh (30), who too boards the train from the Kalwa car shed.
Boarding the train from the car shed seems safer to the commuters than the crowded trains at the platforms. “Danger is everywhere, even boarding from platforms is risky… We board from the car shed because it is easier and safer,” said Ramchandra Yadav, a 50-year-old milkman.
The same routine plays out at night when the Thane local reaches Thane, the last stop. Kalwa-bound commuters don’t alight at Thane but prefer to do so near the car shed despite warnings prohibiting commuters from travelling further as the train is heading towards its shed. “The crowd empties at Thane station, so we get to sit and travel comfortably up to Kalwa,” said Ajay Khedrekar (31).
“We have made arrangements at that stretch (Thane-Kalwa). We had planned to put dividers in the section, which can block people from boarding the locals before it reaches the station,” said Samdhan Pawar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, GRP, Central Region.