The ugly scene witnessed late night at Virar railway station on Saturday, where scores of commuters were hurling abuses at the motorman for taking the train to the far-off platform 8 without prior intimation, is allegedly due to a faulty public announcement (PA) system.
First, due to a signal fault, the train had halted for several minutes outside Virar station. Then, the motorman took the train to platform 8, which is about a km away from the exit and is inconvenient for passengers, as they have to walk through a narrow lane.
But the motorman Ramprasad B couldn’t follow the norms and inform passengers that he was taking the train to the much-hated platform, as the PA system had allegedly developed a fault. People were furious because of this and heated arguments almost ended in an ugly brawl. MiD DAY had reported on the fracas at Virar (‘Motorman, commuters come to blows at Virar, December 2).
Sources said that the motorman Ramprasad B has complained to the Western Railway (WR) authorities that the PA system wasn’t usable due to a technical malfunction in the train. To elaborate, there was a ‘unit failure’ in this local train soon after it crossed Mira Road station, which resulted in malfunctioning of the PA system.
“He couldn’t make announcements and inform passengers inside about the situation as the PA system wasn’t in working condition due to the unit failure,” said another motorman on condition of anonymity. When he reached Virar station, he was forced to use his cell phone and walkie-talkie inside his cabin to get in touch with the stationmaster and guard of the train.
Other motormen claimed that apart from the PA systems, even the devices of the train management system weren’t functioning in several trains that operated on the suburban corridor. The furious motormen added that this was the case with at least 90 percent of local trains, which often caused a communication gap. As per the rules, the motorman has to switch off his cell phone, but under such circumstances, they have to no option but to use it.
On Saturday, the unit failure coupled with signal failure between Nalasopara and Virar stations had resulted in total chaos. Ramprasad remained confined to his cabin after seeing the crowd’s wrath and was inside for more than two-and-a-half hours. The mob eventually dispersed around 2.45 am.