Monday, January 25, 2010

Crowded death

Mumbai is one of those cities where life moves faster than excuses. Every one is in a hurry. Here, we don’t have time for rationality about speed and deadline. We just work. We just do our jobs and move on to our houses for a good night sleep. That’s pretty much the case in almost every other metropolitan city, which is fueled by dreams and ambitions of gigantic proportion.

Mumbai is fast thanks to two reasons. One is it’s local trains and other is the people traveling in it. They both complement each other pretty perfectly. The crowd and hustle-bustle that comes with these trains in Mumbai is a legend of sorts that can’t be ignored. People literally breathe into each other’s lungs with hardly the space to share fresh air. According to Wikipedia, more than 5,000 passengers are packed into a 9-car rake during peak hours, as against the rated carrying capacity of 1,700. Literally, that means, 14 to 16 passengers are standing on each square meter of floor space.

Now, imagine you are one of those 14 to 16 passengers stacked in that bogey and the train stops in middle of track. How do you feel? The answer is simple. You are utterly frustrated, distressed and would want to break free. There could be hundreds of reasons for that train to stop there. It could be failure of signal or could be overlapping of time schedule thus creating a case of traffic. It could be anything but we forget a more occurring possibility there.

It could be due to a passenger who was hanging on the foot-board a while ago but accidentally bumped into the passing steel structures or it could be someone who just slipped off the least of support he had. It’s a mere coincidence that in a city of 14 million people, around 4000 people die due to accidents related to trains every single year.

I came across such incident just two days ago when the train stopped abruptly on the 8-km distance track (which is the longest distance between two stations in whole of Mumbai) creating a flutter of anxiety. As I was hanging on the foot-board like ‘Tarzans of Bombay’ do, I could see it quiet clearly why the train pulled the brake. It was a bloodied man lying on the side of the track. The man was in severe pain and was lifted by 3 men from Railways into the furthest bogey that the motorman occupies.

I’m glad I witnessed this but I’m sad too as I know it could be me or you the next time we hang onto the overcrowded train to fight time and deadline!


Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli said...

oh man that's very sad. i know what you must have felt like. Once a lady got hurt with the rod while jumping into the compartment i was travelling in. She occupied a seat and tried to stay composed. she then got off at andheri station. the train stayed halted for a quite sometime. when i got off to see if something is wrong, i saw this women stationary and some people surrounding her. three of us managed to take her to the hospital with help from railway officials and police. Unfortunately, we couldn't save her. we still do not know if she was alive when we saw her at the station. ever since, i never rush to board a train. would advise you all the same.
- Mumbai local train blogger (

CRFH said...

Sad to hear what happened. Karachi is not as densely populated as Mumbai but is still the country's most populated city, and I can relate to what you said here. The city's once prolifically used circular railway systems isn't the main mode of choice for the masses anymore, but the shift has turned towards a certain breed of gaudily decorated privately owned mini-buses which are more convenient for lower and middle classes. The situation is similar with people coming out from every corner and crevice of the bus during peak hours. This is a classic case of over-utilization, bordering of fatal levels. It's quite a sight, and just as dangerous.