Posts tagged railway
Documentary: Bombay Railway

Bombay Railway is a two-part documentary by BBC 4 that paints a picture of an overcrowded train system pushed to its limit by 6 million commuters a day, full of people who strive towards their goals tirelessly, in the city of dreams that is Mumbai. I was a frequent traveller myself, so it was interesting to watch the documentary which is from the point of view of an observer rather than someone who has lived the experience. What we call "Crush" is the super rush hour that's also mentioned in the film, and the statistics and video footage is more frightening than actually travelling in the crowd. As an observer, the sight of 5000 or more people getting into trains meant for 1200 people within 30 seconds is a spectacle. As a participant it's an exciting, thrilling, and somewhat harrowing daily reality. The fact is that the local trains are cheap, charging about 1 penny a mile and the trains are always on time with a 97% efficiency, so despite the odds the system is dependable and vital to the normal functioning of Mumbai.

In the first part of the film, the stories about runaway kids living on Mumbai platforms sounds sunny and positive, giving the audience hope that things could turn out well for these children that have escaped abusive families. However describing a railway station as a "family" where you get to "be yourself" is overly optimistic and misleading. Most of these runaways end up being abused, drugged and treated badly. I have seen them being thrashed by cops or others on more than one occasion. Life for kids in such places is rarely a happy place.

Various other issues such as illegal hawking, crossing tracks, and the terrorist bombings are also mentioned. Below are a few screenshots from the film: