Local trains are known as the lifeline of Mumbai as commuters rely on it for travelling from distant suburbs to the city. Trains are often overcrowded as commuters struggle to enter and alight from the compartment. The punctuality of semi fast trains which halt at stations like Mulund, Bhandup, Vikhroli has become a cause of concern for commuters. Often these trains run 20 to 25 minutes or sometimes even more time behind schedule thereby causing inconvenience to passengers. Mumbaikars staying in far flung suburbs of the city have to bear the brunt of delay of semi-fast trains. Many times they reach their office late. The situation gets worse during monsoon season when railway tracks get flooded due to waterlogging thereby resulting into cancellation of several services.
Dr. Avinash Ghatnekar a Mulund resident said, “According to me it is necessary to calculate the number of passengers commuting from Mulund and passes issued from that station. If maximum number of passes are issued from Mulund then more number of trains should haIt there. If the number of passes issued from Thane exceeds Mulund then more preference should be given to the former for train halts. It is true that central railway has been ignored when it comes to upgradation of passenger amenities.”
Those people commuting from central to western line have to face immense difficulties as they have to change stations for reaching their destination. Commuters have often filed complaint with the railways mentioning about the delay of the semi-fast trains. Railways nonetheless have only given false assurance to commuters but no action has been taken by them to address this issue. In such a scenario, how can commuters depend of these trains that are always running behind their schedules?
Yogesh Gharat another resident from Mulund said, “Railways should adopt passenger friendly measures. During holidays railways runs it services as per Sunday timetable but private sector employees work on those days. Railway indicators are not functioning properly as people don’t get correct information about running of trains. Central railway is always neglected. New trains are mostly introduced on Western Railway and old coaches run on Central line. Suburban trains must run as per schedule.”
Many times indicators are not functioning at railway stations as it becomes difficult for passengers to know the exact status of running of trains. No announcements are being made by railways to inform passengers as they remain in dark about the schedule of these trains. Sometimes services are cancelled thereby causing inconvenience to passengers. When regular services get cancelled often railway station gets crowded with passengers.
An official from Central Railway spoke on the condition of anonymity and said, “We are taking steps to upgrade passenger amenities. Trains get delayed due to technical issues and steps are being taken to address them. We are also overhauling the signalling system.”
Commuters have also complained about overcrowding in trains which claims the lives of passengers. However, no steps have been taken by railways to address the grievance of passengers. Even though the Central Railway has the largest network of railway lines functioning in the city but it has often been neglected. Railways have failed to upgrade passenger amenities citing shortage of funds. The bureaucratic functioning of railways too is responsible for the delay in completion of work.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had warned general managers that their promotions will be stalled if railways don’t improve its punctuality. Nowadays even long distance trains are running behind their schedule. Railways had taken several initiatives to upgrade passengers amenities like constructing new foot overbridges, increasing the height of platforms, introducing wi-fi services, refurbishing online ticketing services. However, if trains punctuality don’t improve then it will only create discontent among passengers.