Mumbai, Oct 17 (IANS) With ten persons losing their lives daily on the Central Railways Mumbai suburban tracks alone, a national public relations organisation has embarked on a special social messaging drive called ‘Mission Mumbai Local for the commuter.
The suburban train service is considered to be the lifeline of Mumbai with over 7.5 million people riding these ‘locals’ daily and the system functioning to 400 times to 800 times its capacity. It is officially admitted that ten persons die every day either by falling from trains or while crossing the tracks, and even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has expressed concern over this.
Triggered by this, the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) — the national organisation of PR, media, advertising, HR professionals and mass communication academicians — has launched its @lifelinemumbai Twitter and Facebook campaigns drawing attention of various stake holders, decision-makers and celebrities to the issue.
In response, the Railway Ministry tweeted back asking for details and PRCI responded.
On a seriously concerned Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s call for a study, the Central Railway set up a committee which came out with a report suggesting a Rs 20,000 crore makeover plan.
The panel’s report admits that ten persons die and another ten get seriously injured on Mumbai’s rail tracks due to various reasons on the Central Railway and says the basic problem is “only a huge gap between the supply and demand”.
“As the report says traffic on Central Railway is rising by four per cent every year mainly due to cheaper prices of housing than on the Western Railway where the traffic is falling by one per cent a year,” PRCI National President B.N. Kumar said.
“The committee cautions that the situation could explode by the year 2030 if nothing is done to improve the suburban train system,” he pointed out.
“Our campaign focus is to impress upon all stakeholders to act in the interest of the common commuter and it is part of social messaging endeavour,” said PRCI Chief Mentor and Chairman Emeritus M.B. Jayaram. PRCI has earlier embarked on social messaging campaigns to conserve water and empower the girl child with self-defence programmes.
Notably, four members of parliament — Kirit Somaiya, Poonam Mahajan, Arvind Sawant and Rajan Vichare — besides commissioners of Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan municipal corporations and the then Central Railway General Manager S.K. Sood are signatories to the report, said Jayaram.
Commenting on the train delays due to lack of parking places, the Central Railway panel points out that a serious mobility problem (drag) is created by terminating trains at various stations as they have to travel backwards for about a km on the same line. This travelling back without proper signals is done at a speed of 15 kmph and takes a minimum of four minutes. Several trains en route, therefore, come to a halt before they get a chance to enter the station.
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) has a maximum of 465 trains terminating, followed by Thane with 395, Panvel 274, Kalyan 194, and Vashi 181 trains. These stations can be freed from the drag on the pipeline by constructing auxiliary platforms of 40m x 400 m at 6m height level to augment the existing narrow platforms.
At CST, slow lines are proposed to be shifted to underground options forming a loop between Up and Down lines, in a group of six lines. For Panvel, the committee suggests extension of services up to Karjat and Roha. These solutions when implemented at CST, Thane, Kalyan, Karjat and Kasara will permit 20 oer cent extra trains on the slow lines immediately, the panel suggests.