In the aftermath of the stampede at Elphinstone Road station, the authorities are racing to improve railway safety. But after engineers complained about the lack of time for maintenance, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal suggested that they push the last local to an earlier slot, and delay the first local of the next day, so the workers get four hours at a stretch.
23 commuters died in a stampede on the narrow foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road station. File Pic
Meanwhile, Minister Goyal has also given the go-ahead to appoint three new additional divisional railway managers (ADRM), one of whom will solely be responsible for the safe running of the network. The city currently has a divisional railway manager (DRM), who is the functional head of the Mumbai division. The DRM also has an ADRM to assist, but both are usually busy with train operations, punctuality and interactions with public representatives and passengers. The new ADRMs will help to divide the workload, with each looking after different aspects. This plan is not just for Mumbai, but will also be replicated in 12 other divisions in cities across the country. With the approvals already in place, officers will soon be transferred to fill the posts.
Relatives of the stampede victims stage a protest against the railways outside KEM Hospital. File Pic
Several FOB projects planned
The railways is currently on war footing to complete a safety audit of all Mumbai suburban stations in a week, with a similar exercise to take place across the country as well. The railway minister has also approved the construction of 20 new foot overbridges (FOBs) on the Central line. On the Western line, 10 new FOBs are to be constructed, while 13 will be widened. Sources said that when Goyal was discussing these projects, the engineering department pointed out that in Mumbai, they get just two-and-a-half hours for maintenance or construction work after the last train has gone and the before the next day’s first train starts.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal
Pressed for time
"At night, we get all the required infrastructure like heavy-duty cranes in place, but cannot operate it beyond a certain period of time because the train services resume again. If we get some more time, we can do the work faster and more efficiently," said a senior official from the engineering department. To this, Goyal said that the railways should schedule the last local a little earlier, and push the next day’s first local to a later slot. This will give the maintenance workers four solid hours in which to work. This change in scheduling has been proposed only for certain days.
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Subhash Gupta, former member of the Divisional railway Users consultative committee (DRUCC) said, "The decision of having additional and focused team members at the ADRM-level will be helpful, as it will allow the DRM to do planning and management jobs. The decision to have a four-hour working slot at night is also justified, but they should do it in a planned manner. They should take the public into confidence, so that commuters can also plan accordingly."
Division of work
* ADRM technical: Technical and safety aspects
* ADRM operations: Smooth running of trains
* ADRM administration: Faster paperwork
30 No. of new FOBs to be built in Mumbai
13 No. of FOBs to be widened on Western line
4 Number of hours the railways want at night for maintenance work
13 Number of divisions that will get the new ADRMs
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