It's a choice between safety and faster movement of trains. The motormen have raised a few issues with train running and the apparent loopholes in the system with Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw during his first visit to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) on June 9. Now, the minister has asked the rail officials on Central Railway to carry out a study on the issues presented by the motormen.
On Thursday, the motormen demanded that the distance between signal poles and auxiliary warning system (AWS) be reviewed and if possible changed, to prevent recurring cases of the signal passing at danger and overshooting of platforms which are considered unsafe for passengers. According to the engineers of railways, the existing system is apposite enough and it is for the motormen to keep right watch on the red signal and halt trains on time.
According to sources, from this year until now, the number of SPAD is around 12 cases while the overcrossing of platforms is around 5 cases. "We asked the minister to review the location of AWS with signal poles wherein we have demanded AWS boxes to be shifted a few meters ahead of the signal pole rather than it being placed close to the pole. Currently, if a motorman misses a red signal and brakes late, then by the time AWS kicks in, the train passes the signal pole," said a motorman on condition of anonymity.
The AWS system alerts the motorman if the local train is overspeeding and halts the local train. However, the train halts ahead of railway signals causing SPAD cases. The motormen claimed that after such instances, the motorman in question is relieved for a month or two and given a soft job. During this time enquiry is also conducted. Its outcome can be anywhere from minor action to even removal from a job depending on the severity of the incident.
When a SPAD occurs on the railway network local trains get delayed and can also result in the collision of trains. The motormen have proposed to reduce the distance of AWS on the railway tracks from the present 50 meters to 20 meters would alert motormen and halt local trains before overshooting the signal.
Vaishnaw asked the railway officials to submit the report to him during the next visit, “Conduct a study on the reduction of distance and submit the report to me the next time I visit Mumbai,” directed Vaishnaw on Thursday.
Likewise the over shooting of platform is an issue too as it means that passengers sitting inside the coaches will be in trouble. According to railway officials, this can become dangerous for those who want to get down at that station. "They will either not get to alight or in worst case scenario, could end up wrongly jumping onto the tracks while in a hurry to get down from moving train," explained a railway official.
Meanwhile if any changes are made with the existing signalling system then the authorities fear that it will slow down the trains. This is because, the trains will be forced to halt more often and it would not get the time to accelerate for long due to presence of signal poles which are present at a distance of 450-750 meters depending on the route.