Upset with scrapping of pantry car, Rajdhani staff delays train in Mumbai

A staffer pulls the emergency chain of the Rajdhani Express just as the locomotive departs from Mumbai Central station; employees complain of apathy to their needs

Tension gripped the Mumbai Central station around 5 pm on Friday when a staffer from the railway electrical department allegedly pulled the emergency chain of the Rajdhani Express to protest the scrapping of one of the two pantry coaches in the train. The ensuing chaos delayed the train by 12 minutes. The train had already been held up for eight minutes to make way for the August Kranti Express.

Confused commuters and angry Rajdhani staffers caught in a verbal duel at the Mumbai Central station on Friday. Pic/Vedika Chaubey
Confused commuters and angry Rajdhani staffers caught in a verbal duel at the Mumbai Central station on Friday. Pic/Vedika Chaubey

The Rajdhani Express typically has 66 railway employees on board — 36 to serve food, 18 in the pantry car, six in charge of the electrical system and six other mechanical staffers. The staffers take turns resting on the six seats available in the pantry car. The reduction in pantry coaches has not gone down well with the staffers.

The revision in the train composition came into effect on Friday.

Western Railway (WR) officials said they were expecting some form of protest from the staffers and could, therefore, sort out the issue and put the train schedule back on track soon.

A Rajdhani staffer, though, complained that railway officials have been apathetic to the staff’s needs. “They are only interested in raking in more revenue. How do we put up all the food and maintenance equipment in one coach?” He warned that the new arrangement could attract rats.

Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager, WR, said, “We are investigating the pulling of the chain. Action will be taken against the staffer, if he’s found guilty.”

AC coach in place
There are 17 Rajdhani trains, of which eight, including those departing from Mumbai, Howrah, Dibrugarh, Patna and Sealdah, will have now only one pantry car, instead of two. An AC-3 coach has been added in its place. The other nine trains, including those departing from Bhubaneswar, Thiruvanathapuram, Jammu and Chennai, have only one pantry car.

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