Coronavirus in Mumbai: Railway employees staged rail roko protest, workmen’s special train stopped

Amid fears of contracting COVID-19 due to lack of adequate space and failure to maintain proper social distancing, railway employees staged a 'rail roko' protest and stopped a workmen’s special shuttle service – special trains being run for essential railway staff – at Vidyavihar station on Monday evening.

The Railway authorities said the matter was under investigation, but an additional train would henceforth be run for essential railway staff.

More than 300 railway employees, many of whom were to return home from a car shed and workshop in Kurla, were waiting at Vidyavihar station on Monday evening.

At around 5:30 pm, they jumped onto the tracks and stopped the Karjat-bound workmen’s special shuttle service to protest against the lack of adequate space for railwaymen in the special train.

Venu Nair, general secretary of the National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU), said, due to the pandemic, everyone is suffering from a 'fear psychosis'. He said since the trains running for railway employees on the main central line between CSMT and Karjat were crowded, and several railwaymen did not have adequate place to stand, the railway employees staged the protest.

“The authorities have considered the issue on priority and decided that there will be one extra train trip from Tuesday onwards, so as to disperse the crowd,” Nair said railway staff He added, "The mentality of 'catching the first train' should change.

Only then can the crowd be managed and dispersed. Otherwise, even if Railways add more trips, the situation won't change."

Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, said, “Considering the gradual restarting of passenger train services on Indian Railways and the need for additional frontline staff and back-end staff who are required to run these services, Mumbai Division will run one more emergency vehicle for essential railway staff between 4.30 pm and 4 pm in addition to the existing emergency vehicles,” he said.

A railway worker who did not wish to be named said, "There is no announcement about what time the train will be running. If the trains are running late for some reason, the dissemination of information must be there to avoid a rush. Besides, as compared to Western Railways, the train trips for Central Railway employees are fewer in number."

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