Commuters want foot space, not stations like airports


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MUMBAI: A major part of their daily lives is spent finding foot space in crowded local trains, so when Union railways minister Dinesh Trivedi said in his maiden budget that he would make stations like airports and showed concern about safety, commuters took it with a pinch of salt.

Shilpa Talreja has been traveling from Mira Road to Andheri for nearly 25 years, and the experience is "nightmarish". "I regularly board the 8.50am train at Mira Road and am lucky if I find my feet on the footboard. Everyday, I am afraid a slight nudge will land me on the tracks," Talreja said.

K K Prakashan, an activist who has been commuting since 1992, said, "The situation is so bad that even boarding a Vasai local is becoming impossible in the morning." He explained how in the evening at Andheri station, commuters have to wait half an hour before to board a local. "You come after the train arrives on the platform and getting in will become a challenge," said Prakashan.

Ajay Modi may be a non-peak direction traveler, but he too does not enjoy the luxury of a relaxed journey. "Travelling from Vile Parle to Vasai in the morning was considered non-peak hour travel. Today, I cannot tell the difference between peak and non-peak," said Modi, who has been commuting for over 20 years. Modi has even switched to the road at least twice a week. "By road I get to my factory in 40 minutes thanks to the flyovers. Trains are uncertain," said Modi, who felt the fare hike was unjustified as there is no visible improvement in travel conditions.

Prakashan said travel was worst last year as no new trains were introduced on the suburban network despite promises in the 2011-12 Union Railway Budget. But the 2007-09 period was good for commuting, thanks to the quadrupling of tracks and new trains, said Prakashan.

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