HC for change of office timings to tackle overcrowding in Mumbai suburban trains

Railways may go for metro-type sitting arrangement in local trains

GN Bureau | December 17, 2015



If Delhi is struggling to tackle air pollution, the metropolis of Mumbai is battlling overcrowding of suburban train services. Again the judiciary has come up with suggestions to solve the problem faced by the capital of Maharashtra.

The Bombay high court has asked the state government to see if office timings and weekly offs could be changed to reduce rush of commuters during peak hours in local trains.

Asking why timings of most offices are set from 10 am to 5 pm, the high court said that the traditional formula should be broken by introducing different office timings in some sectors in order to prevent overcrowding of trains.

Hearing a suo motu PIL a bench of justices Naresh Patil and S B Shukre said “change the timings of schools, colleges and government offices. The petition was outcome of a letter written by A B Thakker urging reservation of a separate compartment for senior citizens.

“There is no compulsion to follow a set pattern. This will be helpful to employees of organisations also. Break the set pattern of timing and weekly offs,” said the court. The bench has sought a response from the government in this regard.

The court said that offices could be asked to change the weekly offs also in order to reduce overcrowding of trains.

The court also asked the state government and municipal corporation to look at running the central and western railways.

“Why doesn’t the state and municipal corporation not think of participating in the running of trains. It is your people who are dying. You can do this in certain routes to see if it works. There is no use asking the railway ministry. It is happening in your city,” said the bench.

In order to make the trains safer, the bench also asked for rubber bars to be installed in place of the steel rods in local trains so that people holding on to the bars have a better grip and do not fall down. The high court also suggested pushing the bar a little away from the entrance to prevent people from hanging.

Suresh Kumar, appearing for the Western Railways, said that if office timings are changed, rush in the trains will come down by ten per cent.

The HC also asked about the procedure followed by the Railways after an accident and was informed that the station master had to sign a memo before the injured was shifted to a hospital.

“Human life is at stake. You will wait for a memo to be signed by the station master who sits in a remote corner of the station? This will take at least half-an-hour,” said justice Patil. The railways, however, said that the entire procedure took less time.

The railways said that a committee was also looking into changing the sitting arrangements in trains by having lesser seats or have metro-type of sitting arrangements and there would be greater clarity on this next month.

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