Commuters make MP travel second-class to understand their woes
Shiv Sena MP Hemant Godse was spotted at Nashik railway station by members of a passenger association as he was about to board an AC coach; they made him travel with them instead
In a heartening instance of the aam aadmi making a neta walk the talk, members of a Nashik passenger association forced their Member of Parliament (MP) to give up air-conditioned comfort for a day and travel with them to understand their problems.
Nashik MP Hemant Godse (second from right) with members of the Panchavati Passengers Association. The train was delayed by nearly 15 minutes on that day as well
Shiv Sena MP Hemant Godse, who had defeated NCP heavyweight Chhagan Bhujbal by a huge margin partly because he had promised to address the problems of people who make the 186-km journey from Nashik to Mumbai for work every day was spotted at Nashik station by members of the Panchavati Passengers Association on November 19.
The commuters, who claimed to have sent the MP several reminders, went up to Godse as he was about to board the air-conditioned compartment of the Panchavati Express to Mumbai, and asked him to travel with them in the second-class compartment.
“We face several problems while travelling to work from Nashik to Mumbai, spending nearly eight hours four hours each way in the train every day. There are around 8,500 people who hold monthly season tickets from Nashik to Mumbai, of which around 1,800 are state and Central government employees, who get late marks on a regular basis as the trains are delayed.
We wanted to make the MP understand this,” said Rajesh Fokane, president of the Panchavati Passengers Association. There are three trains from Mumbai to Nashik Rajya Rani Express, Panchavati Express and Godavari Express.
“The most used train is the Panchavati Express, as it terminates at Mumbai CST, while the others do so at Kurla LTT. Monthly season ticket holders use this train to go to Mumbai for work, but it has been getting delayed unnecessarily as it is made to wait for the Duronto Express.
Associations in Pune are very strong and the trains coming from there are never delayed even by a minute,” said Gopal Naik, who works in Thane. Passengers say the Panchavati Express is supposed to reach Mumbai CST at 10.38 am, but it gets delayed very often and reaches post-11 am.
The worst hit are government employees, who lose one casual leave for every four late marks they get. Ironically, the train reached at 11 am the day the MP travelled with members of the association as well. “We spend so much time in trains.
We travel from Nashik to Mumbai, as we can’t afford a home there. Rather than living in a far-flung Mumbai suburb and spending two hours on one-way train travel, we spend another two hours and reach Nashik, where the weather is also much better.
What is troubling us, however, is that our problems are not addressed at all,” said Kailash Burve, who owns a shop in Dadar and stays in Nashik. “The train is delayed because of Duronto.
What’s the problem if a train travelling from Kolkata to Mumbai is delayed by another fifteen minutes if it is already running late? But, if the Nashik train is delayed by the same amount of time, the government employees get late marks,” he added.
“I understood their problems after they asked me to travel with them. There are serious issues regarding trains coming late and the few compartments available for monthly season ticket holders.
I have already met S K Sood, general manager of Central Railway, regarding this. I have told him that the Panchavati Express, which should reach Mumbai CST around 10.38 am always reaches at 11 am, which delays officegoers.
I will also write about this issue to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu,” said Nashik MP Hemant Godse. When mid-day contacted CR General Manager S K Sood on Saturday, he said, “A lot of people come to meet me every day. I don’t remember meeting Godse.”