When guests arrive to see if they should shell out Rs 63,000 crore for a railway project on your home shores, their every wish is pretty much your command. Sadly, Central Railway (CR) officials failed to grant the chairman of the French National Railways his simple wish on Friday: that of a personal photograph of himself posing on the platform in front of one of the local trains at CST.
The delegation from Societe National des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF), the French National Railways, was visiting the city to discuss the feasibility of a high-speed rail corridor on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. Impressed with the workings of the suburban railway network, the chairman of the French National Railways Guillaume Pepy requested his team member for a snap using his personal camera: he had to give up after making repeated attempts for almost 20 minutes.
“In the afternoon around 12.30 pm, we took the team of three French delegates to the CST railway platforms and explained to them our working pattern. At the end, the chairman wanted to have his picture in front of a local train, but he couldn’t, thanks to the terrible rush,” confirmed an official from CR.
According to the official Pepy asked his team member to click his picture with the local train in background. “He went and stood in front of the local train at CST station, and waited for the passengers to leave. To his surprise, he tried this method with four trains, but as soon as the rush minimised, the trains departs from the platform.
Finally, after wasting almost 20 minutes, he decided to move from the platform without a picture,” added the official. Thankfully, they didn’t go back disappointed. The delegation was pleasantly surprised to see the locals running so systematically, in spite of the complexity of the system and the sheer number of passengers using it. “They showed keen interest in understanding one of the most densely operated suburban services,” said Subodh Jain, GM of CR.
The Divisional Railway Manager of CR accompanied the team of other officials. As per the MoU signed between the Railways and SNCF, the two will jointly carry out the operations and development feasibility project on the high-speed rail corridor. The Rs 63,000 crore project will be funded by SNCF with support from the French Ministry of Finance. The delegation also visited the Churchgate station on the western line. If railway officials from both the lines are to be believed, the delegation showed keen interest in understanding the techniques used to keep the massive system working smoothly.
“They have even invited us to their country. The delegation was very impressed with the working style of our system. They have also visited our control room and they spent over an hour monitoring and understanding it,” said Mukesh Nigam, DRM, CR.