If you travel on the central line late at night, you are likely to get no help from the Central Railway to get to your destination.
At 12 railway stations on the line, the platform indicators don’t work after 10pm and nobody bothers to make any announcements about train arrivals or delays. The reason: insufficient manpower, say authorities.
A single person handles both the indicator and announcement systems at all railway suburban stations, and currently at these 12 stations there are announcers working only in two shifts (6am to 2pm; 2pm to 10pm). This means that once the 10pm shift is over, there is no one to do the job and both services are unavailable.
“Recently, 12 of our announcers were promoted as booking clerks. In effect, there’s no one for the night shift at these stations,” said Atul Rane, senior divisional commercial manager, CR. “Earlier, there were 20 to 25 such stations where there was no staff for the night shift. We have managed to reduce it to 12stations now and will bring it down further.”
The 12 affected stations are Matunga, Wadala Road, Vikhroli, Diwa, Reay Road, Cotton Green, King Circle, Chembur, Vashi, Sanpada, Juinagar and Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar.
Commuters who use these stations are expectedly unhappy. “These days even women travel late night and it’s a major concern when the indicators don’t function. Moreover, there are no phone numbers displayed in the station premises where we can call and inquire about train arrivals,” said Pradnya Kamble, 25, a Santacruz resident and student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Deonar.
That’s not all. The CR has outsourced the operation of the indicators and announcement systems at 21 distant stations for better functioning, but commuters complain that there is no improvement in the quality of services. The stations where this has been given to contractors include Kopar, Thakurli, Vagani, Neral, Bhivpuri, Shelu, Titvala, Khadavali, Vasind, Asangaon, Athgaon, Khardi, Seawoods, Mansarvar, Kharghar, Khandeshwar, Airoli, Rabale, Ghansoli and Koparkhairane.
“The indicators at Khandeshwar, Mansarvar and Kharghar stations hardly work, and I have never heard announcements at these stations. The Railways may have given the contracts to someone, but clearly they are not supervising the work,” said Kharghar resident Rohit Raut.
Rane said passengers who face problems with indicators or announcements can SMS their complain on 90044 11111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. “Both these systems are closely tracked by authorities. If there are repeated complaints about the same station, action will be initiated immediately,” he said.