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Metro drops women-only coaches

Metro Railway will revert to the system of two rows of women’s seats per compartment from next week. Complaints from passengers have forced it to abandon within a week the experiment of reserving two compartments at the two ends of a train for women.

The trial run of reserved compartments, started on September 1, confused and inconvenienced both men and women passengers. The experiment was to continue till the end of October.

“We are receiving lots of complaints from both women and men about the new system,” said J. Mitra, the chief operations manager of Metro Railway.

The move to reserve compartments, along the lines of the system on local trains, followed complaints by women, who comprise 30 per cent of Metro commuters.

“Some women had complained that it was difficult to board a train or get off during rush hour. We also received complaints of misbehaviour by male passengers,” said a Metro official.

Most of Metro’s 4.25 lakh daily weekday passengers were taken by surprise when the reservation experiment was started on Monday. Men who boarded women’s compartments were asked to get off and women who boarded the other compartments were stumped to find the reserved seats missing.

According to Metro officials, women were mainly unhappy with the reservation being in force only from 9am to 7pm. “Have the officials assumed that women don’t travel after 7pm? I usually return home after 7.30pm, when the train is crowded,” said Kamalika Dutta Gupta, who works for an NGO.

The location of the two reserved compartments also inconvenienced women, especially those who board trains from stations like Maidan and Park Street where the stairs are in the middle of the platform.

“Earlier, even if I could not find a seat, I could stand comfortably. Now I have to walk to the end of the platform. Moving to the front or back compartments after boarding the train is impossible because of the crowd,” said Niddhi Chaudhuri, who commutes by Metro from her college near Maidan station.

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