Mon, 26 Oct 2009 17:19:34 GMT

Mumbai's lifeline halts as motormen go on strike

Mumbai: As Mumbaikars were getting ready to go home, they were in for a rude shock on Monday afternoon. Motormen belonging to the Central Railway went on strike demanding that vacancies be immediately filled up as they were getting "overworked and stressed".

The agitation started around noon, right after the morning peak hours. More than 60 stations have been affected on the Central and Harbour lines, with trains running at least 55 minutes late. As of now, trains are running but a huge backlog has been created right from CST -- that handles 60 lakh commuters daily -- to as far as Byculla and on the Harbour Line till Dockyard.

The Central line runs from CST to Karjat and Harbour Line from CST to Panvel. However, services on the Western line from Churchgate to Virar are running according to schedule. The Central Railway, which includes the Harbour Line, serves the eastern part of Mumbai and is used by over four million commuters daily.

Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh president RP Bhatnagar said CR employees were agitating against the lack of action against the guilty in the Thane bridge collapse incident that led to the death of a motorman. "There is no strike, we are only going by the rule book and hence won't do any overtime," Bhatnagar told a news channel.

Central Railway Public Relations Officer S Mudgerikar said the situation would be brought under control soon and added that the officials have been in constant touch with the unions.

The motormen are also agitating against the present scenario where they have to do overtime and also forgo weekly offs to maintain services as there is an acute shortage of staff.

The commuters are having a harrowing time and have been left completely clueless as the railways have not yet provided any information to them and the timetable indicators at various stations have been reset to 00.00 hrs.

"We had absolutely no idea why the trains suddenly stopped at Byculla station. All indicators also went on the blink and thousands of commuters tried to organise alternative modes of transport," said financial consultant J. Pallicha, who took a cab to his office at Masjid Bunder.

The agitation led to trains queuing up on all tracks and the arrival and departures of long distance trains being impacted.

In a freak accident last week, a bridge carrying a huge water pipeline came crashing down on a moving suburban train in Thane, killing two people, including the driver R Ramachandran, who was trapped in the engine cabin for hours and died before he could be rescued.

Source: India Syndicate & Agencies

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