Thursday, November 22, 2007

London Mayor in Mumbai.

And Londoners thought the Northern line was bad.

London mayor Ken Livingstone pushed through a swell of passengers hanging from the door of a commuter train on Wednesday, fulfilling a wish to experience rush-hour Mumbai when more than 550 people cram into a carriage built for 200.

Livingstone, in India on a six-day visit, boarded a packed train to make a 25-minute journey, as thousands of commuters looked on at the security arrangements and hordes of journalists.

The mayor pushed past passengers hanging from a door-less first class coach and was quickly offered a seat by some commuters. He then sat by the window and spoke to reporters.

"This is amazing how people cope," the mayor said, in a comparison with the more orderly crowds of the London Underground.

As arteries that keep Mumbai's economy ticking, its suburban trains carry some six million people a day to offices, shops and factories.

But arriving safe and sound for work after a trip is no mean feat. An average 4,000 people die every year on Mumbai's railways, crushed under trains, electrocuted by overhead power lines or killed as they lean from jam-packed carriages to gasp for air.

Livingstone travelled on one of the dozens of new trains built with German help to replace rakes that have been running on technology from the 1920s.

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