In the last couple of days, the Railways has lost at least five of its running room staff to COVID-19. Such cases amongst the motormen who manoeuvre Mumbai’s local train services have been on a rise on both the Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR). Citing the surge, they have urged the Indian Railways administration and Maharashtra government to bring down the number of services.
Railway unions claim that 35 to 40 positive cases have been detected amongst motormen, guards and loco pilots on CR and WR. And, over the past few days, there has been a sudden surge in the number. Moreover, the running room staff has not been included in the list of frontline workers to receive the vaccine. Thus, they haven’t been administered the vaccinated, unless they are 45 years or more. “We will be meeting the railway administration and Maharashtra government’s Disaster Management Department. We may even go right up to Health minister Rajesh Tope after seeking an appointment,” said Sanjay Joshi, working president, Railway Kaamgar Sena.
The CR motormen said that there are around 90 active cases, of which around 40 are motormen, of the total 750 odd running room staff. They claim that they will complete their six working duty hours in a day and not do overtime.
At present, CR and WR are together operating 2,985 services per day, which is 95 per cent of the total services. This also includes the revised timings for the public before 7am, between 12pm and 4pm, and after 9pm. Both lines together ferried 34 lakh to 35 lakh passengers everyday till early this March, which has dropped by 6 lakh to 8 lakh passengers.
The motormen claim that, since there is a lockdown and only those in essential duties are commuting, the Indian Railways and Maharashtra government should consider the earlier timetable with less services so as to accommodate 700 passengers per rake.
The motormen on WR also say that there is a need to rethink the current train schedule owing to the surge in cases. “We too are human beings and the administration should think of the current situation and not simply run 95 per cent of the total services, which doesn’t make sense,” said a couple of motormen.
Recently, Free Press Journal had reported about how the motormen claimed that cases had gone up owing to the new breathalysers introduced by the WR administration.