The proposal to of have staggered office timings in Mumbai has been given a boost. The railway board has sent a report on how staggered office hours can be worked out to the state for a review.
“We have sent the report to the state government. After their review, it will be made public. The suggestions of all the stakeholders will be considered before the report is finalised,” said a senior railway official.
Transport experts in the city have been suggesting staggered office hours to reduce congestion in suburban trains during peak hours for a long time. If the office hours of different public and private establishments — especially in south Mumbai — are staggered way, the number of commuters travelling to south Mumbai in the morning peak hours, and towards the suburbs in the evening peak hours could be spread over longer period, experts have suggested.
Soon after he became railway minister, Suresh Prabhu — originally a Mumbai resident — expressed interest in the idea and directed the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) to prepare a draft report. The report was prepared and submitted to the Railway Board — the Indian Railway’s highest decision making body — in September for review. It has now been forwarded to the state government.
If both, the railways and the Maharashtra government work out a solution, it will bring relief to millions of office goers. Sources said the RITES, in its report, has suggested changing the beginning and end of office hours for certain offices, providing flexible working hours and work-from-home options to staffers and considering a four-day week with longer working hours instead of a five-day-week. The offices will include state and central government establishments, a number of corporate offices and other private business establishments in Mumbai, especially south Mumbai.
Currently, Central and Western Railways (WR) suburban trains carry more than 70lakh commuters daily, a majority of whom are office goers, students and businessmen. Overcrowded suburban trains from 8am to 11am and 5pm-9pm (peak hours) are the railways’ biggest concern as they jeopardise public safety.
More than 3,000 suburban commuters meet with accidents every year, a majority of occur when commuters fall from overcrowded trains.
Confirming the report, Swadheen Kshatriya chief secretary, government of Maharashtra said, “We are yet to examine it. We will consider it in a positive manner.”