On the occasion of Mother’s Day, the Delhi and Lucknow divisions of Northern Railway (NR), took an initiative to make travel hassle-free for parents travelling with their infants. In a compartment of the Lucknow Mail, a foldable berth has been added to two main lower berths. These berths, called baby berths, are intended to comfortably accommodate infants who may be travelling with their parents. Measuring 770 mm in length, 255 mm in width, and 76.2 mm in height, these berths come with stoppers to prevent the babies from falling off while travelling. The experiment is being carried on a trial basis, with the authorities expressing their desire to work on any feedback they may receive from the stakeholders concerned.
On Mother's Day, Lucknow Divn of N.Rly. introduced a baby berth on experimental basis in Coach No.194129/B4, berth No 12 & 60. This will facilitate mothers travelling with their babies.— Northern Railway (@RailwayNorthern) May 9, 2022
The fitted baby seat is foldable & secured with a stopper. @AshwiniVaishnaw @RailMinIndia pic.twitter.com/4jNEtchuVh
There’s no denying that the aim of the initiative is a good one. Parents, especially mothers, desire some protection for their wards who are often too young to be left unsupervised in a train journey. Furthermore, they are often cramped for space which prevents them from sleeping peacefully. So, any provision or step that allows for extra space is a welcome one.
Still, as several netizens have pointed out, the execution leaves much to be desired. For one, the additional berth faces the aisle, and not the wall. This adds to the possibility or risk of the infants falling from or rolling off the berth (even with the stopper), in case the compartment jerks wildly. Others have pointed out to the fact that there’s no head or body protection provided for the infants, which can be potentially harmful should people on the upper berths accidentally drop things from above. Consequently, the point of these baby berths may be rendered moot especially if parents choose to guard their children by tucking them towards the wall of the cubicle and not the aisle-facing extension. Another pertinent point is the fact that currently, there’s no mechanism for parents to book these baby berths.
Whether the Railways acts on overcoming the shortcomings that have already been pointed out, and thereby makes the system as foolproof and safe for the mothers and infants as possible, remains to be seen.