Photos courtesy of Rupert Taylor-Price
TAKING THE TRAIN in India is an experience in and of itself, and much of it can be attributed to the chaotic nature of train travel in the country. The Mumbai Suburban Railway is ridiculously crowded, with an estimated 5,000 people packed into nine cars with a total carrying capacity of only 1,700.
This means there are 14 to 16 passengers standing in every square meter of floor space. There are even advice guides created specifically for travelers to help them navigate the system.
As one might imagine, many of the hundreds of people hanging off of the sides and crouched on the roofs of the cars never bought tickets. India’s Northern Railways is attempting to control the problem with the help of a few well-trained athletes. Thirty-six boxers and wrestlers have been hired to monitor the cars, looking for passengers without tickets. Those found in violation will have to pay the fare and a fine to continue to ride.
A spokesperson for Northern Railways denied that the boxers and wrestlers were hired for intimidation purposes, saying that “the boxers and wrestlers are railway employees and are expected to function like any other ticker-checkers. There is absolutely no intimidation involved.” Still, I I would definitely think twice before hopping on board sans ticket.
Is Northern Railways’ plan a good idea or an invitation to disaster? Let us know what you think in the comments section.