Commuters panic as WR tries out automated door closing yet again

Mumbai: The testing of the automatic closed-door system on non-airconditioned trains led to chaos at Nalasopara railway station on Wednesday. Commuters were anxious about the new system, with most of them thinking it was bound to fail. They were sceptical about the success of the system not just during peak hours but throughout the day, saying closed doors would lead to suffocation, amongst other aspects.

When the train arrived at Nalasopara, some commuters were seen trying to manually open the compartment doors after they had been shut. “Railway Police were seen inside coaches to ensure there was no obstruction while the doors were being closed. Railways need to ensure adequate ventilation and provide fans in working condition, especially during peak hours,” said an official.

Most commuters agreed. “This is a good idea as it will prevent people from falling off moving trains. But the negative impact during peak hours will be huge -- it will lead to suffocation inside coaches and since most of the time, many fans don't work, there will be no ventilation,” said Shweta Singh, Borivli resident.

Another railway official said, Mumbai mostly has hot and humid weather and due to crowding, the comfort level of commuters is zero. If the closed-door system is operated, it will lead to high carbon dioxide levels inside the coach. “Some years ago, a study was conducted by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, to measure the level of carbon dioxide inside the coaches of suburban trains. The study revealed that the level of carbon dioxide was as high as 1,116 ppm (parts per million), considerably higher than the permissible level of 700 ppm,” he said.

On Tuesday, a similar experiment was tried out at Vasai Road station at 8.20am, resulting in commuters panicking about boarding and alighting from the trains. They began to open the doors manually, resulting in the jamming of the automated system and causing a delay, as the process of resetting the system took time.

As per GRP data up to December 28, 2019, 2,674 people died travelling on footboards of trains. Of these, 551 deaths were due to falling off moving trains. In 2018, the total number of deaths was higher, at 2,981. Of these, 711 were due to falling off moving trains.

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