To ascertain needs of women commuters travelling on the suburban network, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) carried out a survey, in which it was found that 46 per cent women faced harassment while travelling between Virar and Dahanu on Western Railway (WR), while 43 per cent faced similar problems between Neral and Karjat.
Over 70 per cent of these women did not complain to the railway police about such incidents, while more than 50 per cent were not aware of the railway helpline numbers.
The survey was carried out by Market Search, an independent market research agency, which interviewed 1,009 women, of which 897 travelled from Virar and Dahanu, and 142 travelled between Neral and Kajrat. The survey was conducted following guidelines of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is financing the Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3 (MUTP 3). MRVC will carry out the work for two major corridors between Virar-Dahanu and Karjat-Panvel, for which loan negotiations are in the pipeline.
About 85 per cent women commuters attributed unauthorised entry of men inside the ladies’ coaches as cause of harassment, while 52 per cent complained of being harassed on platforms. Palghar was found to be the most vulnerable station on the WR. Most of the surveyed women said they had complained to station staff instead of the railway police. During the survey, 80 per cent commuters said they could not find seats while travelling between Virar and Dahanu. Most women complained that access to stations was covered by unauthorised stalls and vendors occupying the path. Nearly 89 per cent had not used the escalators on the WR, while another 92 per cent had not used it on the Central Railway (CR).
The report also highlighted women’s response to factors such as washrooms, the height between the footboard and platform, and lighting. About 84 per cent women between Virar and Dahanu found the washrooms dirty, while 55 per cent between Neral and Karjat found it unusable. These washrooms were also found to be too far from the ladies’ compartment and the exit of the station. Non-availability of drinking water was another concern for about 96 per cent women on WR, and 86 per cent on CR.
Women commuters were found most satisfied with the height of the footboard from the platform, announcements and indicators. The report urged officials to make women coaches exclusive to women for 24 hours, followed by an increase in police staff. It also said there should be constant announcements of helpline numbers to increase awareness.
A spokesperson of MRVC said, “It is a preliminary survey, which needs to be looked into. The survey was conducted through a consultant and is yet to be reviewed by officials from the MRVC, only after which a conclusion will be reached. After the analysis, measures to be implemented will be decided.”