Women queue up to board a local train at Andheri. (Photo: Amit Chakravarty)
As the indicator flashed ‘6.30 pm, Virar fast train’, woman commuters began queuing up on platform 8 of Andheri station without any guidance from police personnel. The new-found decorum on the otherwise crowded platform is a result of an initiative started by the Government Railway Police (GRP) to reduce instances of bullying and accidents on the platform.
A month ago, woman constables were deployed outside each of the three women’s compartments at Andheri station, urging commuters to queue up and enter from either side of the door while leaving room in the middle for passengers to deboard.
Now, passengers seem to have adopted the initiative and queue up before they have to guided by police personnel. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Western Railway) Pradeep Chavan said, “When the same crowd can queue up to board a Metro train, why not local trains? We cannot always deploy police personnel; it has to be eventually adopted by passengers.”
According to Chavan, the queuing system has been a success at Andheri. The GRP is now trying to implement it at Virar and Nallasopara stations from where the trains originate. Staff shortage at Virar and Nallasopara has led residents from Vasai Road to come forward and help the GRP.
Rajina S Almeda, a resident of Vasai Road, along with 10 other women from the Mahila Railway Suraksha Samiti, have been deployed at Virar and Nallasopara, armed with jackets and whistles.
Almeda told The Indian Express, “Over the past 15 days, we come during morning and evening peak hours and tell women to queue up. We have also tried explaining how it will help reduce pick-pocketing and theft. Some women have given us a good response.”
However, when trains get delayed, passengers break the queue and rush to board trains. According to senior GRP officials, standing in a queue has its own challenges on stations like Borivali where there is little space due to ongoing construction work.
“Once the system is accepted by woman commuters, we’ll try and replicate it in compartments for the differently-abled and then in general compartments,” Chavan added.