Railway's research wing suggests 3 ways to achieve staggered office timings to beat rush hour crunch

Updated: Jan 30, 2018, 10:49 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

mid-day, having lent its support to the WorkToLiveToWork campaign, revisits an early 2017 report by the railways' research wing on staggered office hours in Mumbai and the three main suggestions on how to get it done

The report hinted that the rise in the number of commuters was expected to more than double in the decade. Representational Picture
The report hinted that the rise in the number of commuters was expected to more than double in the decade. Representational Picture

Nearly a year ago, the railways had taken the first step to build a case for staggered office timings in Mumbai. With a push from former railway minister Suresh Prabhu, it had, in early 2017, conducted a study and published a report on how it could help to reduce crowds during rush hours. The Rail India Technical and Economic Service and the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) had taken the lead and brought out the report.

Taking the lead
"Infrastructure planning and development takes time; hence, staggering of office timings to bring down crowding on trains during peak hours was proposed as a short-term measure. The report briefly highlighted how it could be implemented," a senior MRVC official said. The report had also insisted on expanding public transport options rather than depending on one, hinting that the rise in the number of commuters was expected to more than double in the decade.

The report was followed by meetings between railway officials, further followed by meetings between Prabhu and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on how the idea could be taken ahead, and involved active participation from the state and local bodies, without whose support the idea would flop, the official added. Laying a three-pronged strategy, the report highlighted that crowding could be cut down by starting staggered work hours, flexitime and staggered weekly offs. It suggested that the state or local bodies could go back to the old shifts with three eight-hour slots or five smaller slots over 24 hours in rotation every month.

The flexitime suggestion was allowing employees to choose their working hours as per their convenience, either early morning till noon or later in the afternoon. The third one stated that instead of making Sunday a common holiday, weekly offs could be staggered on weekdays. The draft report suggested that back-office employees in IT, accountancy, corporate and manufacturing among other such sectors should encourage employees to work from home.

Two thumbs up
Both Central and Western Railways welcomed the suggestions but said a strong push had to come from the state. "WR supports the idea of staggering office hours to cut down peak hour crowding. The initiative needs to be taken to a mass level to make it more effective," its chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar said.

CR's chief PRO Sunil Udasi said, "Staggering office hours is an excellent short-term measure and CR is all for it. The issue of crowding in trains is being handled by introducing more services and building more infra. And such initiatives will go a long way in solving the crowding issue."
Pledge support to the campaign on social media with #FlexiTimeSavesLives or by logging on to http://www.worktolivetowork.com/

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