Elphinstone Station Stampede: 23 people were killed and 30 others were injured in the accident.
New Delhi: Targeted for Friday's stampede in Mumbai that killed 23, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal fought off the perception that the government didn't want to invest in safety of suburban commuters but found money for the bullet train. After spending nine hours at meetings, closeted with top bureaucrats, Mr Goyal gave officials powers to spend on safety-related aspects, promised to get escalators installed at crowded stations and beyond and introduce CCTVs in local trains. But he tried to keep expectations at a realistic level. "It is not an excuse but problems in Indian Railways aren't one or two years old. They... were given to us in 2014 as inheritance," the minister said.
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"Every commuter of Mumbai Suburban is as important as a Rajdhani passenger and should be treated like one," Mr Goyal told rail officials at the meeting that tweaked procedures to cut delays in execution of plans.
Foot Over Bridges, or FOBs, would be treated safety items with no restriction of budget in contrast to the past, where the first FOB at a station was considered essential and demands for more bridges, treated low on priority. "We are turning a 150-year-old convention on its head,"
A total of 92 more escalators sanctioned at Mumbai suburban stations with high footfall. Railway stations which serve large number of passengers across the country will also get escalators
200 officers will be relocated from the Railway Head Quarters as field staff to strengthen ground operations and project implementation, the minister said.
Over next 15 months, all suburban trains in Mumbai will have CCTV cameras with monitoring mechanism. Parallel work across India.
Yesterday, Mr Goyal gave officials one week to resolve any pending issues with other government agencies that have stalled projects and escalate problems that they aren't able to resolve, telling them that projects could not be kept perpetually hanging due to differences between government departments.
The stampede broke out around 10.30 am on Friday on the narrow bridge which connects the busy Elphinstone Road and Parel train stations. There were more than the usual people on the bridge at the time, waiting for the rain to end. Then, four trains came at the same time.
Due to the rain, a few commuters slipped, which led to the stampede. There were also rumours that the bridge - that commuters said shakes every time a train passes - is falling.