mid-day editorial: Quit yanking the railways' chain

Most commuters are quick to complain whenever trains are delayed or halted out of schedule. However, there are also some who have no qualms in causing these very delays by yanking the alarm chain for the most trivial reasons.

Yesterday, this paper reported that each time someone pulls the chain, the railways lose at least four minutes. This problem is particularly rampant during peak morning and evening hours, when people travel in groups. The chains are pulled for frivolous reasons, like slowing the train so a fellow group member who is late can catch up and board the train.

Every time a chain is pulled, it sets off a ringer followed by hooters activated by the motorman for the stationmaster, who then sends his colleague to inspect the coach in which the chain was pulled and resets it to its original position. While the officer is investigating the reason for pulling the chain, the commuter for whom the train is delayed sneaks into the compartment from another door. Nobody comes forward to claim responsibility for pulling the chain.

In order to rein in offenders who throw the entire railway timetable out of gear by pulling the alarm chain for such insignificant reasons, Western Railway (WR) has now posted officials in plain clothes inside the trains, to identify these rogue elements.

It is time commuters behave like responsible adults and pull the chain only what it is meant for — emergencies. The four-minute delay can translate into significant time wastage. Commuters need to realise that their childish actions put a strain on the system. Many times, we have heard adults saying they pulled the chain just for fun. We are so quick to pull up the Railways for delays, shoddy service and numerous other reasons. But, commuters too have a responsibility to use the service wisely and well.

It is not just fines that should act as a deterrent to this selfish act of chain pulling. Use your conscience and think of the inconvenience you are causing others through this silly act. Leave that chain alone, commuters.

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