Mumbai: Central and Western Railway authorities to go the mechanised way

Jun 20, 2017, 11:00 IST | Shashank Rao

Staff crunch threatens the safety of over 76 lakh train commuters. FILE PIC
Staff crunch threatens the safety of over 76 lakh train commuters. FILE PIC

Machines may soon take over the work that railway staffers do, but the question is whether they would be able to ensure the safety of over 76 lakh Mumbaikars, who travel by local trains daily. Over the years, vacancies of different posts in both the Central and Western Railway sections have gone up, but the authorities are hardly concerned about filling them up. Reason: They plan to optimise the use of manpower and eventually replace it with machines.

In a meeting held with the railway authorities in Mumbai, Member (Staff) of Railway Board, Pradeep Kumar discussed various issues, which included staff crunch as well.
Cutting down on manpower Speaking on condition of anonymity, a railway official said, "There are vacancies across several departments, but we plan to go the mechanised way. Hence, we are analyzing the need for people and trying to use manpower optimally."

"There are nearly 7,500 vacancies in the Mumbai division. In fact, due to the staff crunch, workers are getting killed on duty. For instance, since 2006, 43 gangmen have died on tracks. Yet the posts related to safety work are not being filled," said Ajay Singh, Divisional Secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS).

Overworked staffers
The lack of workers is putting a lot of pressure on the railway staff, who work nearly 12 hours a day. "They are suffering from various health issues due to the long working hours. The Mumbai division of the Central Railway has 3,000 vacancies alone. The railway administration should not compromise with safety," said Praveen Bajpai, General Secretary, Central Railway, Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS).

7,500 No. of vacancies in Mumbai division
12 No. of hours railway staffers work on an average

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