Mumbai stampede: Lack of public address system at railway stations led to spreading of false rumours caused stampede

Mumbai: According to railway activists in the city, the lack of public address system at railway stations has led to spreading of false rumours, which caused a stampede. The horrific stampede incident at Elphinstone station on Friday has exposed the poor infrastructure at railway stations on the suburban section.

At present, there is a public address system at railway station platforms and inside local trains on all three lines. There are no public address systems on the foot-overbridges and subways at railway stations where maximum crowd is gathered during peak hours. “It is the duty of the station master to inform the motor man who could thereby spread the information to the commuters seated inside the train. Several accidents could be averted with proper flow of communication between the various department of railways,” said Kailash Verma, a member of Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC) of Western Railway.

Railway activists also alleged that there is lack of co-ordination among the Government Railway Police (GRP), Railway Protection Force (RPF) and station master at a railway station. Due to this, commuters face trust issues during an untoward incident. “The GRP official must be alerted of any untoward incident which could possibly take place at crowded railway stations. There is a lack of communication between the RPF and GRP officials as they work on the basis of jurisdiction. Due to this, commuters are not kept informed of any incident,” said a railway activist.

The activists have suggested that commuters must be alerted of incidents through a mobile application once they enter the premises of a railway station. “The emergency alerts can be sent to the commuters as soon as they enter the premises of a station. This could be made possible through a Global Positioning System (GPS). This system can help the commuters be aware of incidents taking place inside the railway station and avoid falling prey to accidents like a stampede,” added Verma.

This could be done through a GPS system in the mobile application which could provide them minute updates and keep them alerted. “This application could be similar to the traffic application which keeps the commuter aware of traffic diversion,” said Rajesh Sharma, a daily commuter at Thane station.

The western railway officials said that within a week’s time the audit team would identify the areas of concern and safety measures would thereby be taken. “We are planning to bring about a proper public address system in place for the benefit of commuters. The proposal will be sent within a week’s time,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief Public Relations Officer of western railways.

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