Central Railway employees thrilled with new flexible work schedule | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Central Railway employees thrilled with new flexible work schedule

Nov 20, 2023 06:22 AM IST

A while ago, CR’s Mumbai division created two slots—9.30 am to 5.45 pm and 11.30 am to 7.45pm—for employees working at its CSMT office. The scheme began on November 1, and the employees have the option of selecting either one of the above rosters on the first of every month

Mumbai: When Vipin Kumar moved to Mumbai in April after securing a job with Central Railway (CR), the 28-year-old was petrified about boarding suburban trains—infamous for being overcrowded—during the morning and evening peak hours. Back home in Uttar Pradesh, his parents would be perennially worried, having heard of commuter deaths and injuries owing to falling from jam-packed local trains during rush hours.

Kumar is among the 300 employees of CR’s Mumbai division who opted for its new scheme to escape jampacked local trains during morning peak hours. These employees, who include staff from the materials management and public relations departments, constitute roughly 20 percent of the division’s 1,500-strong workforce
Kumar is among the 300 employees of CR’s Mumbai division who opted for its new scheme to escape jampacked local trains during morning peak hours. These employees, who include staff from the materials management and public relations departments, constitute roughly 20 percent of the division’s 1,500-strong workforce

Their fears ended on November 1 when Kumar opted to start his work day at 11.30 am instead of 9.30 am under CR’s newly introduced flexi work schedule. CR is the first central government organisation to undertake such an initiative, and is urging other government offices to do the same to reduce crowds in trains.

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Kumar is among the 300 employees of CR’s Mumbai division who opted for its new scheme to escape jampacked local trains during morning peak hours. These employees, who include staff from the materials management and public relations departments, constitute roughly 20 percent of the division’s 1,500-strong workforce.

The senior clerk, who hails from Bijnor, has to board a train from Kurla to his office in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). “I had never experienced such a frenetic way of commuting so it came as a shock,” he recalled. “In the initial days, I would let a few trains pass before making an attempt to board one. So the moment a flexi hours option came up, I grabbed it.”

With the extra time at his disposal, Kumar was able to resume his morning fitness regime. “I also have ample time to eat breakfast and cook and pack my lunch for the day, which I used to skip during my earlier work schedule,” he said.

Family responsibilities were the reason why newlywed Inderprit Kaur latched onto the flexi work timings as soon as the announcement was made. Kaur, a resident of Ghodbunder, was earlier unable to give sufficient time to her husband and family as travelling to work entailed a journey of 55 minutes to Thane railway station and an equally long train commute to CSMT. “Earlier, when I had to reach the office at 9.30 am, I would leave home at around 7.30 am,” she said. “At times, I was forced to skip breakfast as I could not risk missing my AC local.”

A content Inderprit said that flexible working hours had given her more time for family, cooking and morning walks. Although it now takes her 30 to 45 minutes longer to reach home since her day ends at 7.45 pm, she’s not complaining. “I don’t encounter the peak hour crowd at that time and travel more peacefully,” she said. “Road traffic from Thane station to Ghodbunder also tapers off. I hope this system of staggered working hours stays.”

A while ago, CR’s Mumbai division created two slots—9.30 am to 5.45 pm and 11.30 am to 7.45pm—for employees working at its CSMT office. The scheme began on November 1, and the employees have the option of selecting either one of the above rosters on the first of every month.

GSK Iyer (55), a resident of Mira Road who works in the public relations department, has got back to his morning riyaz or music practice, which he was earlier forced to do in the evenings. Iyer, who has lent his voice to several official functions of Indian Railways, pursues singing as a passion and is a voiceover artist as well. “The new flexi timings have allowed me to eat breakfast with my family, complete pending work without having to take a half-day or day’s leave and even travel peacefully,” he said. “I wish this had come into force long ago.”

CR, over the past few days, has been sending letters to government bodies and corporate offices, urging them to adopt a flexible work schedule. “We are hoping more of our employees will adopt it from next month,” said Shivraj Manaspure, chief PRO, CR. “We have also written letters to other state and central government agencies, and even the private sector, to do this. It would help considerably in reducing crowds inside local trains.”

With the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the footfall in local trains is gradually climbing upwards. Now, close to 60 lakh people travel on both central and western lines every day. In 2022, over 700 deaths were reported on the CR network: 124 people died due to trespassing, 596 after falling off trains and 20 after being hit by poles along railway tracks.

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