Mumbai: Even as the state government is under pressure to ask Railways to revise train timings of up to 7 AM, adjustments are being made by some of the stakeholders and staggered office timings seem to be clocking in.
There are workplaces which are revising office timings to as early as 8 AM from the earlier 10 AM. Railway sources said that private offices that hadn't hitherto taken much interest in staggering work hours are now being forced into doing a rethink.
Ever since the Maharashtra government embarked on its 'Mission Begin Again', the need for staggered office timings have been mulled by both Railways, and the state government. However, there is no concrete plan of action on its implementation, for fear of reaction from the public, as well as companies. But because of the public being restricted to boarding trains only from the start of services to 7am, then from noon to 4 PM and after 9 PM, many workplaces have been forced to rethink their working hours.
The time slots have been put in place to avoid crowding in trains, as we continue to be in the midst of a pandemic. However, since there are trains for all now, people prefer commuting by train as it is the quickest way to move in Mumbai. But for the last three days, people have been complaining that they are forced to travel earlier, although their offices are only open by 9.30 AM or later.
"We have been receiving complaints from people about this absurd rule of travelling before 7 AM. The government needs to intervene and either ask the companies to change their office timings or ask Railways to extend train timings for all at least by an hour in the morning," said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad.
Currently, there are a number of multi-national companies that have asked their employees to work from home. However, this is not the case with the unorganised sector and employees of private companies, who have been asking their employees to come in to work.
"Our staff are reaching work sooner, by 8 - 8.30 AM. So, they are also being asked to leave before 4 PM. But then it's not possible to follow this system every day, unless there are proper instructions from the government," said A N Shaikh, an HR professional working in a marketing firm.
Commuters have said these travel times are inconvenient to reach work and want the state to allow travel during peak hours. "We have unofficially changed office timings, though it would have been a lot easier to implement if the government had introduced a circular. They should have thought of this earlier, before starting trains for all at selected times. This was badly planned," said Siddesh Desai, an HR professional in a finance company.
The entire plan -- of having coloured tickets for those travelling at special times, controlled entry/exit points and other steps have not been taken. "We have asked our staff to ensure that there is no crowding at stations or stampede-like situations on foot overbridges and ticket counters. In such a situation, with the help of local police, we will restrict the entry of people to 50 metres before the station premises," said a senior railway official.
For the last three days, the number of daily passengers have touched 33 lakh, on both Central and Western Railways. Meanwhile, the state health minister, Rajesh Tope, had said on Tuesday that the government was cognisant of the inconvenience being faced by commuters because of the stipulated travel times and they were considering rescheduling the permissible travel times.