Mumbai’s local trains add one and half lakh passengers each year, however the duration of the stop at each station, varying from 15 to 20 seconds, has remained unchanged in the last 25 years.
In the everyday scrimmage that happens at all stations many commuters miss their train and often vent their anger at hapless motormen who are only going by the rule book.
Now the motormen’s association has written to the Central Railway that given the increased passenger load and the consequent increase in the time it takes for all these passengers to disembark or get on, the duration of train halts should be increased.
If the proposal is accepted it will also impact our travel time.
The problem, according to the National Railway Mazdoor Union which raised the issue, is most acute at stations that do not have platforms on either side of an incoming local. As a result, very often even before commuters can get into the coach the train starts moving. This results in accidents as desperate passengers try to jump onto the running train.
N Haridasan, Divisional Secretary for National Railway Mazdoor Union who wrote the letter on behalf of the motormen, says, “Every year an average of 40 new services are added to both CR and WR. However, the time allotted for local trains to stop at stations is the same for the past 25 years. Trains halt for 20 seconds at major stations like Dadar, Borivli and Thane, whereas they are allowed to halt for 15 seconds at smaller stations like Parel.”
Unaware of the rules, the commuters who miss their train invariably vent their anger at motormen.
For instance, on April 20, angry passengers beat up a CR motorman Shekhar Pachouri at Asangaon station. Pachouri was driving an Asangaon local from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which was later extended to Kasara. Passengers wanting to go to CST and who boarded the train at Asangaon by mistake, did not get time to get off. They held the motorman responsible for the inconvenience and bashed him up. Pachouri had to run into the guard’s cabin at the station and lock himself in to save himself from the commuters’ wrath. He is being treated at Central Railway Divisional Hospital in Kalyan.
What commuters don’t realise is that motormen and guards can get charge-sheeted if a train is delayed. A motorman on CR said on condition of anonymity, “During rush hours trains run on tight schedules. On fast tracks, both mails and express trains are slotted. Therefore, even though there may be a rush at a particular station, we cannot wait for long. Every alternate day, we have a person falling off a train while trying to board a running train.”
Haridasan said, “This problem does not arise on stations beyond Vashi on the Harbour Line, where they have platforms on both sides. The loading and unloading takes place smoothly here. The administration should think in terms of having platforms on both sides, wherever possible. As per today’s requirements, the halt time should at least be increased to 30 seconds at busier stations and at least 25 seconds at smaller stations.”
Pranai Prabhakar, Western Railway CPRO: “We have hardly received any complaints about train halt time being less than required. The guards on local trains have anyway been instructed to see to it that passengers get down and board trains comfortably. At stations like Charni Road, the trains even halt for around 30 seconds during morning rush hours.”
J N Lal, DRM Central Railway said, “I’m busy and cannot discuss the issue with you right now.”
Rajendrasingh Rawat, a resident of Kalyan: “I travel between Vashi and Kalyan every day and have to change trains at Thane. During evening rush hours the train halts at Thane for just a few seconds. However the number of passengers getting off the trains is so huge in numbers that those embarking barely have any time. If the halt time is increased, people can at least comfortably get in and get off. There will also be no need to push and pull which often results in accidents or injury.”
Madhukar Chaskar, resident of Borivali: “Senior citizens like me and those with a handicap cannot board the train in such short time. The train’s speed should be improved, so that the halt time can be increased.”
Stns where halt time falls short
On Central Railway: Dadar, Sion, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Thane, Kalwa, Mumbra
On Western Railway: Lower Parel, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Kandivli, Borivli, Mira Road