Stress drives city motormen’s health off track
The men who ferry you to work and back on Mumbai’s suburban trains — the motormen — say their job is destroying their health. The stress, they say, is causing blood pressure problems, heart ailments, rise in blood sugar levels and other health problems.
The chief cause of the stress is the working hours. Their seven-hour duty could begin as early as 4 am, or start in the evening and end at 2 am. While he’s at the controls, the motorman can’t afford to let his guard down for even a second.
“The railways have no destressing programmes, such as meditation or yoga classes. We only have check-ups once in two years or so,” said a motorman on condition of anonymity.
There are 470 motormen on the Western Railway and 664 on the Central Railway. They ferry 70 lakh commuters a day.
In February, 201 motormen jointly submitted a letter asking their bosses for a change of job. They said they’d even accept a guard’s job.
P Gupta, secretary, Western Railway Motormen’s Association, said: “We are so fed up of our working hours and constant criticism of the railway administration and the public, that we want to resign or join other departments.”
Railway officials, however, said the system ensures that commuters are not affected. “Motormen should remember that they opted for this job and are trained to handle it,” said a senior official, on condition of anonymity. He said that trains have foolproof accident-prevention mechanism. Even if a motorman takes ill inside the cab, it wouldn’t result in an accident.