The Sport of Rush Hour Train Boarding in Mumbai India

By: leelefever on March 20, 2006 - 10:04am


The trains in Mumbai are famous because they are so completely over taxed, moving more people than any metro system on earth. They have an excellent safety record based on train crashes, but 10-15 people per day die on the tracks. As Wikipedia describes

Mumbai's suburban railway is the densest route in the world. It is approximately a little more than 50,000 passengers per kilometer, transporting 65 lakh (6.5 million) commuters daily. This has resulted in severe overloading in the trains which carry 5000 commuters per 9 car train which are designed to carry less than a third of that amount. The density of passengers in peak hours is as high as 15 people per sq metre.

We went to the busy Dadar station today at rush hour to watch the spectacle, which should not be missed in any visit to Mumbai. The event can best be described as a sport for the men. It takes speed, agility, strength, perseverance and concentration.


As the train approaches the station, the men let out a chorus of yells as they gather on the platform. As the train speeds by as it slows, a few jump into the open doors as the crowds push closer to the edge. The men clearly revel in the competition among their peers.


When it comes to a stop, it turns into a civilized wrestling match with each man struggling to find some type of toe hold inside the train- some way to pry himself into the car before it leaves. The men are packed together so closely I wonder how they can breathe.


With more men than room, the train begins to move and the lucky ones fight tooth and nail to find some way to hold onto the train as it leaves, each with a confident smile, knowing he had won. Some are left to fight for another train.

Incredibly, we saw just one station of many, where the scene will be repeated until the train achieves a level of density that no mere mortal can handle. Athletes indeed.

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