On the Rail Budget eve, a group of transport activists highlighted the issue of alarming rise in number of passenger deaths, mostly due to crossing of tracks and falling off crowded trains, and demanded a separate zone for local services in Mumbai to address the woes of commuters.

Protesters under the banner of Observers Research Foundation (ORF) led by its chief Sudheendra Kulkarni and rail activist Sameer Jhaveri gathered at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai to raise a slew of issues.

Holding banners and posters, they appealed to the Minister to make necessary provisions to safeguard the lives of nearly eight million passengers travelling daily in suburban trains.

"An analysis of the budgetary allocations made to Mumbai over the last three years shows the suburban network is almost always ignored in the Railway Ministry's overall scheme of things. And if a few were announced, they were hardly implemented", said Kulkarni.

He demanded that the suburban services of Central and Western Railway be merged into a common zone. This unified zone should eventually be converted into an autonomous body which may be called the "Mumbai Metropolitan Region Railway Corporation" (MMRRC).

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