The stampede on the bridge at Elphinstone Road suburban railway station in Mumbai killed 22 passengers and injured several others. Mumbai’s local trains carry about 7.5 million passengers every day, packed, on average, to 2.6 times their capacity.

The death of 22 in a stampede on a bridge on September 29, 2017, propelled the pressures on the Mumbai’s local trains to headline news, but at least nine commuters die (as IndiaSpend has previously reported) every day on the world’s busiest--and deadliest--urban railway.

In 65 years, the passenger load on Mumbai’s suburban rail system grew more than eight times, while train capacity grew about three times, revealing how the city’s commuter-rail infrastructure has failed its commuters, according to railway data and IndiaSpend extrapolations from those data.

Mumbai’s local trains carry about 7.5 million passengers every day, packed, on average, to 2.6 times their capacity. In contrast, rail coaches on the Tokyo metro, a system known for overcrowding, carry double their capacity.

In 1952, Mumbai’s suburban rail system was carrying 292 million passengers; by 2016 that number was up to 2.7 billion, or, as we said, about eight times higher. Over the same period, the number of trains grew about three times--from 741 to 2,800.

Source: 1951-52 to 2004-05: Indian Railway Statistical Manual; For 2016, the estimate has been arrived at considering an average load of 7.5 million passengers a day.

Such pressures on the commuter-rail system strain platforms, bridges--such as the one at Elphinstone Road where the stampede occurred--and other infrastructure as they struggle to cater to many times more commuters than they were designed for.

As a consequence, commuters in Mumbai routinely fall out of trains or die crossing the tracks. In 10 years to 2015, 6,989 died after falling from trains and 22,289 died crossing the tracks, as the Indian Express reported on September 13, 2015.

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