Citizens in Mumbai in India can face dangers when traveling by train, but the city’s railway officials aim to change the trains’ conditions by adding one crucial component: automatic sliding doors.
Now, Integral Coach Factory (ICF), based in Chennai, is producing train cars with automatic sliding doors, much like other metro systems around the world. ICF and transit authorities aim to cut down on the number of deaths per year related to the trains.
Yet the trains with new doors will come with one big problem: they won’t have any air conditioning.
Because the trains are already stuffy even with the open spaces at the ends of train cars, residents in Mumbai who use the suburban railway system worry that the conditions will only get worse.
One transit official warned that the doors could cut off the cross-ventilation that the current vestibules supply. “It is a regressive decision modeled on the Kolkata Metro trains, many of which have automatic doors without air-conditioning. But look at the sheer numbers that Mumbai’s locals carry during peak hours. It will get very stuffy,” he said.
A similar system exists in Kolkata, which uses automatic doors on trains but also has no air conditioning.
ICF hopes to begin adding trains with air conditioning, as well, but it could take up to one year for that to happen.
Mumbai’s trains are often packed with commuters, and as a result, there are about 700 deaths each year due to passengers falling from commuter trains. While the trains can seat 1,167 people, on average, authorities figure that there are two “standees” for every sitting person.
During peak hours, the number of standees can be triple or almost quadruple the amount of sitting passengers, creating a danger for anyone standing near a door. In Mumbai, the problem has its own term: the “Super Dense Crush Load.”
However, the automatic doors may be a crucial first step in improving the safety of Mumbai’s trains.
ICF plans to complete the project within the next two years for Mumbai’s suburban routes.