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Motorman collapses, guard dies, pointing to poor working conditions

A 40-year-old motorman was found unconscious at Virar station, minutes before resuming duty yesterday, days after a 50-year-old guard had a fatal heart attack in Churchgate station

The motormen and guards manning local trains shoulder the responsibility of carrying lakhs of passengers safely to their destinations every day. However, two recent incidents have stirred up discontentment among this group, over the poor conditions in which they are expected to perform their duties.

Yesterday, a motorman, Umesh Chavan (40), was admitted to the ICU of a private hospital after he was found unconscious in the running room at Virar station, where motormen usually rest. Just a few days before that, 50-year-old guard Mahesh Patel died while resting in the running room at Churchgate station.

Chavan was found unconscious at the Virar running room at 3 am yesterday. Sources said that he was scheduled to manoeuvre a train out of the carshed to Virar station at 3.15 am. The train would have started running at 4.45 am towards Churchgate as a fast local. When other motormen tried to wake him up at 3 am, he didn’t respond.

“He was immediately taken to a nearby private hospital outside Virar station. Around 9.30 am, he was taken to a bigger hospital in Andheri in an ambulance. There, doctors said that he had suffered from brain haemorrhage and a paralytic attack,” said a motorman, requesting anonymity. Chavan was successfully operated upon later in the day, and is now recuperating in the ICU.

A few days ago, guard Mahesh Patel died when he was sitting in the Churchgate running room. Sources said that around 7 pm, he had just completed a trip and was resting, when he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He was taken to a private hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

The two incidents, which occurred in within days of each other, have created unrest among the motormen and guards. “We want better facilities at running rooms, especially under such extreme weather conditions,” said a motorman.

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