Stationmasters are the point of contact with commuters and take care of the station in case of untoward incidents; they also have to ensure smooth running of trains and constant announcements
Nearly 18 stations on Central Railway (CR) are operating without a head the stationmaster. Nine stations each on the Main and Harbour lines of CR have nobody overseeing daily routines, or to take care of them during emergencies.
At stations like Currey Road, Chinchpokli, Cotton Green, Dockyard Road etc, ticket issuing clerks handle some duties of the stationmaster, but they aren’t trained to do so.
On the Main line, stations like Chinchpokli, Currey Road, Vidyavihar and Kanjurmarg all stations near huge office complexes have no stationmaster.
The number of commuters at these stations has gone up considerably with time. On the Harbour line, stations like Dockyard Road, Cotton Green, Chunabhatti and Kharghar don’t have any stationmasters.
What they do
Stationmasters are the first point of contact for commuters; in case of untoward incidents, passengers tend to approach the stationmaster.
“The role of a stationmaster comes in especially during an accident at the station be it running over a commuter or moving train derailing or anything else. Stationmasters inform the Government Railway Police and hand over a memo for the same,” said Subhash Gupta, former member of the National Railway Users Consultative Committee.
Besides this, they also have to ensure smooth running of trains, and report any technical failures on tracks or in trains, keep a tab on any delays in services and ensure constant announcements to commuters at the stations. Currently, the ticket-issuing clerks handle these duties at most of the above stations.
“These ticket clerks have little training given about our jobs. In case of incidents like a trespassing accident or technical failures, most of the times no thorough record is mentioned or reported,” said a stationmaster on condition of anonymity. Even the golden hour concept – the one-hour period after an accident during which a victim, if transported to hospital, has more chances of survival - gets a boot due to this.
It also results in pressure on stationmasters from neighbouring stations to record the incidents and act accordingly. “The administration is looking at cutting manpower when it comes to station masters. Every station needs to have a stationmaster, especially on the suburban section,” said Pritish Dubey, general secretary, All-India Stationmaster’s Association.
On October 2, the railways plan to initiate a nationwide cleanliness drive across various stations. Nearly 50 stations across India have been identified, which will be given Rs 5 crore Rs 15 crore for maintaining their premises clean. Other stations, depending upon their grade and number of platforms, will get Rs 1,000 per platform. In such projects, stationmasters are vital to ensure proper utilisation of money.
“There are clerks-in-charge at stations where stationmasters are not there. Their role is similar to the stationmaster,” said A K Singh, spokesperson, Central Railway. However, a CR official, on condition of anonymity, told this paper that the appointment of stationmasters is the prerogative of the Railway Board and until the board decides to appoint these officials, the posts shall remain vacant and the stations will have to make do with the clerks on-duty.
No station masters
Chinchpokli, Currey Road, Vidyavihar, Kanjurmarg, Kalwa, Mumbra, Thakurli, Vithalwadi, Ulhasnagar
Dockyard Road, Cotton Green, GTB Nagar, Chunabhatti, Tilak Nagar, Govandi, Sanpada, Kharghar, Khandeshwar