Raising concerns about safety and easy commute, Independent MP from Mandya Sumalatha Ambareesh has demanded the South Western Railways to introduce trains exclusively for women on the Bengaluru-Mysuru route.
The proposal was put forth by the Mandya MP at an interactive meeting at the Bengaluru Divisional Railway Manager’s office on Monday.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Sumalatha said the issue of thousands of women deprived of proper travel facilities to cities like Bengaluru and Mysuru was brought to her notice since her campaigning days prior to the Lok Sabha elections. “A huge share of women from Mandya are workers in government factories and unorganised sectors. While many work on daily wages as well, a smooth and safe commute to bigger cities on a daily basis has been a pressing demand for quite some time now,” she said.
She also noted that the additional two ladies-only coaches added to trains at present are insufficient. “A lot of women are forced to travel in uncomfortable situations dealing with a mixed crowd in trains. Else, they opt to travel in tempos or vans in which they are cramped up for hours together after a busy day of work to reach back homes. A special train for these ladies would provide reassurance to their families on their safety as well encouraging many more to work in bigger cities,” she added.
The meeting also saw the attendance of five other Karnataka Lok Sabha MPs, namely PC Mohan (Bangalore Central), Tejasvi Surya (Bangalore South), B N Bache Gowda (Chikkballapur), S Muniswamy (Kolar), and G S Basavaraj (Tumkur), apart from Rajya Sabha MPs G S Chandrasekhar, Syed Nasir Hussain, L Hanumanthaiah, and B K Hariprasad. Four Lok Sabha MPs from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh constituencies also raised various concerns during the meeting.
In response to Sumalatha’s demands, the South Western Railway has assured that it will run a few trains with exclusive ladies-only coaches on an experimental basis in the initial phase. “Railway officials will then conduct a feasibility study and take a final call on the introduction of such trains or adding more ladies-only coaches,” Sumalatha added.
At the same time, Namratha Nayak, a techie and a frequent rail user said that the proposal to run a ladies special train is a welcome move. “To be more practical, increasing the number of special compartments earmarked for women passengers can be the beginning step. As of now, two such coaches are never sufficient forcing women to travel in other coaches. This number should be doubled first, as an initial phase of this development,” she said.
Commenting on the congestion on the Bengaluru-Marikuppam route, she added that a special ladies-only passenger train on this route every morning and evening would be a good solution to many issues, including the safety of the women passengers.
Earlier this year, Shakthi teams, which include all-women Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials began traveling in different trains in a bid to enhance the safety of women passengers. Several WhatsApp groups were formed to enable real-time tracking of complaints from women passengers with an aim to bridge the gap between passengers and railway police officers.
The Mandya MP has also written to Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and MoS for Railways Suresh Angadi to address these issues.