Mumbai High Court: Railways should consider raising platform height above 920mm

Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court also asked the Expert Committee to inspect existing height of Railway platforms and give its recommendation for reducing gap between platform and train footboards to prevent further mishaps

The Bombay High Court has asked an Expert Committee to examine the gaps between footboards of local trains and railway platforms and recommend suitable measures, including raising the height of platforms to prevent mishaps.

“At present the Court does not propose to pass any order on this issue, but it would be in the fitness of things to direct the Committee appointed by this Court to have another meeting and to recommend optimum height of the platform after taking into consideration all the relevant aspects including the height of the coach floor of suburban trains and also mail/ express/ passenger trains. The Committee shall also take into consideration the height of the platform at stations, which do not cater to the express/ mail/ passenger trains,” the HC said in its order issued last week.

The Committee is asked to file its report by 28th February to the Railways. The HC also directed railway officials to examine the Committee Report and come out with an action plan by 13th March.

A bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice MS Sanklecha directed the expert committee to inspect each and every platform on the Central and Western Railway routes and decide how much space should be left between the platforms and the footboards of trains so that mishaps could be avoided.

Adv Jamshed Mistry, the Special Invitee on Moneylife Foundation, has been appointed as amicus curie in the case.

The Committee, which has been given this task, is the same one appointed earlier by the High Court to look into the problems of handicapped persons who commute by local trains.

The bench had taken up the issue after a 16-year-old college girl, Monica More, lost her arms after falling into a gap between the platform and local train at Ghatkopar railway station while trying to board a local train last month.

The tragic incident brought to the fore the risk over 75 lakh commuters take daily to board crowded suburban local trains, transport ‘lifelines’ of Mumbai.

The Western Railway submitted before the Court that it had increased height of suburban platforms at nine railway stations including Grant Road and Dadar.

The Court has directed the expert Committee to inspect these nine platforms also along with others.

The HC also reprimanded the railways for keeping wide gaps between the platforms and footboards of trains thereby putting the lives of commuters at great risk.

The court observed “you (railways) are not ready to listen to others. Your stand has been that whatever you say is right and others are wrong.”

Counsel for railways Suresh Kumar gave technical reasons for not increasing the height of platforms.

Next hearing of the case is scheduled for 20th March.

The railways in an affidavit had said that the gap between the footboards of local trains and platforms is not the sole cause behind commuters losing their life or limbs in mishaps but there were several other factors involved like crossing of tracks, trespassing and over-crowding.

In Mumbai, there is no separate rail corridor for local suburban trains and long-distance trains. Since the width of the long-distance trains is greater than local trains, the platforms have to be constructed keeping this in mind.