While Northern Railway is now proposing to install green toilets on trains, there is an ironic twist to the tale as there are still no toilets on the Delhi suburban trains like EMUs which carry lakhs of passengers from the Capital to nearby towns of Aligarh, Panipat, Rohtak and Mathura.
The absence of toilet facility in EMUs, which have a travel time of two to three hours, leads to serious inconvenience to lakhs of passengers, including a large number of women, who travel on a daily basis.
Passengers complain that they have been raising the issue with the Railways authorities for long, but to no avail. Helpless without any toilet on EMU, which is the mainstay of suburban train services, the passengers have to stay put for several hours.
At present the situation is that more than 110 EMUs run on routes like Delhi-Ghaziabad- Aligarh, Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut, Delhi-Shamli, Delhi-Panipat, Delhi-Rohtak, Delhi-Rewari and Delhi-Faridabad- Palwal- Mathura. But none of these trains, including the ladies special, have toilet facility. Likewise the facility is also not available on any of the ladies coaches.
Himanshu Garg, a resident to Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh boards the EMU from Hapur at 6 a.m. and reaches Delhi at 9.30. With the journey being over three hours long, he believes, a toilet is a “necessity”.
“I am a daily commuter to Delhi and spend more than three hours in the EMU. There have been several occasions when not only me but several passengers have felt the need of toilet. The belief of the authorities that passengers do not require a toilet facility over such distances completely defies logic,” said Mr. Garg, who works at the National Stock Exchange in Delhi.
What is all the more troublesome for the passengers is that the halt time of EMUs on stations is extremely brief which makes it nearly impossible for them to use the public toilets at the stations.
Sajjan Singh, a labour contractor who commutes to Rohtak daily, said: “Many a times it has so happened that people who alighted from a train to ease themselves were unable to run and board the train as it gathers speed very quickly.”
Mr. Singh said it is also quite dangerous and risky to try and board a running train.
A woman passengers, who commutes to Delhi from Faridabad daily, said: “In the beginning when I started commuting on EMUs, it was shocking to find no toilet. It is a part of a person’s basic need. I along with several other women commuters have complained to Railways authorities in Delhi but there has been no response to this urgent and pressing need.”
The Northern Railway authorities, however, said the EMUs were started for shorter distances expecting people to use mail or express trains for longer routes. Explaining the logic behind absence of toilet on EMU, a senior Northern railway official said: “The idea of EMU was to have a train on short distance suburban routes with the running time span of about an hour. People who want travel on routes which take several hours have the option to take mail or express trains.”
The officials said even though the demand for toilet facility on EMUs is an old one, the decision on the subject can be taken only by the Railway Ministry as it will require mechanical changes in the design of the coaches.