The Pune railway division recently changed the local train schedule and increased the frequency of services on the city-Lonavla route on an experimental basis for three months, but commuters are complaining that office, school and college timings were not taken into consideration in the new timetable.
Commuters say they are unhappy about the two-hour gap between two Lonavla-city local trains in the morning peak hours. After the 9.35 am local, the next one is at 11.30 am.
Why CR did a rejig
As an increase in overall train traffic was resulting in heavy congestion at the railway station and locals were unable to get a platform at their scheduled time. As preference was given to long-distance trains, most locals had to wait outside the station and would be late by 15 to 30 minutes daily, inconveniencing many commuters.
To bring about a solution to the problem, Central Railway General Manager Subhodh Jain suggested the termination of some local services at Shivaji Nagar station so as to reduce the burden on the Pune railway station and to reschedule the Pune-Lonavla locals.
The new timetable was implemented from July 29. “In the morning, from 8 am to 11 am are the peak hours for commuters and in the evening these are between 5 pm and 8 pm as students and office-goers come to the city from outside for college and work and in the evening they go back home,” Amit Kulkarni, an IT professional, said. “Hence, locals should be available every 20-30 minutes in the peak hours. But there is major gap between two locals precisely during this time, especially so in the morning.”
Students said there was also a gap of two hours in the afternoon, which was very inconvenient as that was the time when most of them got over with their lectures. “There is a gap of two hours in the afternoon, which is very inconvenient for college students,” MBA student Sneha Thakare, who commutes every day from Chinchwad to Shivajinagar, said. “In most of the colleges, lectures start in the morning and get over in the afternoon. A PMPML bus ticket is two times costlier compared to the local, and a bus also takes a lot of time.”
Gulam Ali Bhaldar, president of the Local Commuters Association, said the new timetable had been drawn up not for commuter convenience but to facilitate the passage of express trains.
“The new timetable is favourable for express trains and not for regular local passengers, and though 80,000 people commute on this route, the Railways is giving us second priority,” Bhaldar said. “Since 2006 we have been suggesting a suitable schedule for local trains and demanding the railway people hold meetings with representatives of commuters before fixing the local timings, but our demand is not being heard.”
He said two locals were starting and terminating at Talegaon, which was an injustice to many commuters. “People from Lonavla, Malawali, Kamshet, Kanhe and Vadgaon are suffering a lot because of this,” Bhaldar said.
Need third track: CR
Pune railway division spokesperson Y K Singh said: “The timetable is finalized by Central Railway after a proper, two-month study. There are many commuters who regularly travel by express train. Hence, we have to consider every passenger. Actually, the basic problem is the common track for local and express trains. A third dedicated track for local trains can be the solution. The survey for a third track is in process and is expected to be completed next year.”