Mr Railway Minister, why two committees for suburban railways?

Two different committees for looking into the accidents plaguing the Mumbai suburban rail system have been formed — one each for Central and Western Railway

On one hand, there is an idea of having a unified body for overseeing Mumbai’s suburban rail system, and on the other, the Indian Railways themselves are creating further division between the Central and Western Railway.

These committees have been formed after the huge hue and cry over the death of Dombivli resident Bhavesh Nakate who fell from an overcrowded train. File pic for representation
These committees have been formed after the huge hue and cry over the death of Dombivli resident Bhavesh Nakate who fell from an overcrowded train. File pic for representation

In the last two days, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has created two separate committees, one each for the Central and Western Railway, which will look into the accidents happening on Mumbai’s suburban corridors.

For the Western Railway committee, MPs Arvind Sawant, Rahul Shewale, Poonam Mahajan, Gopal Shetty and Rajan Vichare have been invited. Apart from these people, officials from the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), the Urban Development Department, two representatives from Western Railway, passenger representative Kailash Verma and Mumbai Transport Forum will be a part of the committee.

This comes a day after Central Railway (CR) formed a similar committee on December 2 comprising nine members. Expressing surprise, sources in the railways said, “Ideally, MPs are the same for Mumbai as a city; moreover, there are passenger representatives who are part of the railway appointed consultative committee. So one committee should have sufficed.”

Over the last few years, there has been a demand for segregating Mumbai from the rest of the Indian Railways. In fact, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) was formed way back in 1999 for the purpose of ensuring proper management of the suburban rail corridors. But here the railways have themselves bifurcated the two railways by forming two different committees, which would have their first meetings on December
5-6.

There is another issue that cropped up yesterday. A Vile Parle resident, Ketan Goradia, has been made a member of the CR committee — he will be the passenger representative. This move has displeased passenger associations. “He doesn’t belong to any passenger union or association. The commuter representative does not have experience,” said Subhash Gupta, member, Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee and president of Rail Yatri Sangh.

Back in 2012, Goradia, an engineer, had floated a proposal for connecting CST-Churchgate with a rail link. In 2014, this plan also received a corpus of R5 lakh for study purposes. “He doesn’t have any idea about the grassroots problems faced by people on CR. It is odd that because of his political connections, he got into the committee. We have been working on commuter benefits for ages,” said Madhu Kotian of the Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.

Goradia said that he was surprised at his inclusion. “I was in Nashik when I got a call from the railway authorities. I am not claiming that I know everything about the railways, but I have been working on improving lives of rail users for long. I don’t mind if anyone becomes a part of this committee,” said Goradia to mid-day.

He has already shortlisted a few action points like lessening the crowd inside local trains, having inter-connecting rail lines between Currey Road and Lower Parel and other long- and short-term plans. Goradia is also talking to various Mumbai commuter associations for getting their views on rail safety. Meanwhile MP Kirit Somaiya said that the CR committee would be bringing all passenger associations together to listen to their views. Public hearings would also be called soon, he said.

Suburban Rail Users Consultative Committee (SRUCC) member Kailash Verma told mid-day: “I am presently looking at reducing the entry/exit points at railway stations and also ensuring that fencing is done along rail lines.” He is part of the WR accident committee. These committees have been formed after the huge hue and cry over the death of Dombivli resident Bhavesh Nakate who died after falling from a moving CST-bound train between Kopri and Diva stations.

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