After facing the anger of local train passengers, the railway administration has now decided to terminate only 15 per cent of the Lonavla-Pune locals at Shivajinagar, and has promised an in-depth statistical study on overall passenger flow before zeroing in on the services that will not go up to the Pune railway station.
The preparation of a revised schedule for local trains is underway and will be implemented on an experimental basis in a few days, said railway officials.
“Every day, over 200 trains leave or pass through Pune station. The city is expanding, and to cater to a larger number of passengers, several new trains must be introduced. However, the numbers of platforms is limited, six at present. We have no other option but to decentralise the system of Pune-Lonavla locals,” said Y K Singh, public relations officer, Pune Railway.
A senior railway official said at most only five locals would terminate at Shivajinagar.
“There are a total 21 trips scheduled for the Pune-Lonavla local per day. Of these 21 trips, only four to five trips will terminate at Shivajinagar, and that too during non-peak hours. Only those locals that get 80 per cent empty at Shivajinagar will be selected,” said the official. “A study is underway to determine the number and timing of locals which have maximum passengers alighting at Shivajinagar. Before implementation, we will inform passengers about the revised schedule. Terminating a few locals at Shivajinagar will help increase punctuality of other locals.”
Hemant Tapale, president of the Pune-Mumbai Railway Passenger Association, said the real answer lay in creating a separate local train terminal.
“It is unfair to inconvenience regular passengers to reduce congestion. Local passengers always get second priority. Terminating locals at Shivajinagar is just a temporary solution. Creating a separate terminal for locals is the permanent solution,” Tapale said. “The Pune railway administration has space for its parcel office opposite RTO. It should be utilised for constructing a separate terminal.”
There are over 30,000 regular Lonavla-Pune local passengers, of which 60 per cent alight at Shivajinagar.
As a result of the increase in the number of trains and consequent congestion at the Pune railway station, the local train timetable is getting affected. In order to let long-distance trains pass, local trains are halted outside the station, delaying services by 15 to 30 minutes daily. This greatky inconveniences commuters. It was Subhodh Jain, general manager of Central Railway, who had suggested termination of a few local trains at the Shivajinagar station to reduce congestion at Pune station.