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Musing #4: Feedback to the TOI

Your article ‘Man dies while trying to board train…’ immediately brought into recollection an eerily similar experience of mine which thankfully didn’t end in tragedy.

Being a Mumbaikar for life, I have always had a fascination for trains and considered the Western Railways to be a lifeline throughout my school and junior college days. However, my graduation and post-graduation institutes were located along the Central line and like countless other Mumbaikars, Dadar became a hub of my life for half a dozen years as I switched daily from the Western to the Central line. It was in one such instance that I was caught with my feet dangling in the air from the end of the very same platform mentioned in your article. Perhaps, I too may not have lived to tell this tale, but for a good samaritan who pulled me up and the suppleness of my young body.
To put such accidents down to just the irresponsibility of catching a moving train is simplifying things a bit too much. One has to delve in to the mind of the commuter at that bustling moment. In a city where time is money, “catch me if you can” is a way of life that wholly extends to public transportation, be it a train or a bus. With the average human capable of running at a bust of speed of 20 km/hr if not more, there will always be a window of opportunity of catching a train as it accelerates out of the station. To a commuter, watching a pertinent train start from standstill while being on the platform is perhaps as frustrating as watching paint dry.
Thus, the railway authorities need to take in to consideration instinctive, rather than logical thinking while designing a train or a platform. It doesn’t help that the bridge in question opens up right at the first compartment and that too in the direction opposite to movement. But, the railway authorities need to provide for a window of around 3 seconds at peak running speed along with deceleration which shouldn’t amount to any more than 25-30 metres extension at both ends of the platform. The railways do owe its commuters that much irrespective of their lack of critical thinking.
Since then, I have wised-up enough to not catch a train in motion, but I have been unable to extend the same intellectuality to BEST buses whose drivers cherish testing your athletic abilities, especially when you happen to be the sole person boarding the bus. The mention of BEST also brings in to attention another article of yours titled ‘Dedicated bus lanes can revive BEST’. My only suggestion here is that policing of dedicated bus lanes ought not to be left to policemen alone but to CCTV cameras fitted on the “dash” of the bus. This would help in identifying any violators, albeit ex post facto.
Hope these words reach the right ears to make a difference.

Addressed to the author Somit Sen chiefly apropos this article.

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