147 trains including 88 during evening peak hours were cancelled by Mumbai Railway Services due to the absence of motormen on Central Railways (CR).
Motorman Murlidhar Sharma who used to work at Signal Passing In Danger (SPAD) was hit by Pragati Express near Byculla around 11:00 AM on Friday after he ignored a red signal while piloting a harbour line train from Panvel to Kurla around 8:00 AM. Because of this incident, his colleagues decided to attend his funeral instead.
The funeral was initially scheduled for 11:00 AM, but the cremation was later delayed to 5:00 PM due to the late arrival of relatives due to which 18 more trains were cancelled.
Motormen further said that they would not work overtime which disturbed the timetable. The cause of Sharma’s death was trespassing.
“We grieve the loss of our employee but Union leaders are indulging in the practice of pressurising the administration so that train crew do not face consequences in SPAD cases, ” a railway official said
A commuter said, “It took me 45 minutes to reach to travel between Curry Road and CMST.
As per the Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS) employees union, the deceased motorman, Sharma, was under investigation as he jumped a red signal while on duty. Praveen Vajpayee, general secretary, CRMS, highlighted the alarming impact of icidents of signal passing at danger (SPAD) on staff morale, expressing concern over administrative actions. “Despite provisions being set in place that consider contributing factors before penalisation, they are still not followed. The fear of being removed from service puts employees in undue stress and depression. SPAD inquiries should be done with a humanitarian approach, since it’s a mistake, not a criminal act,” he said.
Amit Bhatnagar, spokesperson for CRMS, emphasised on the immense stress faced by motormen in their roles, exacerbated by unrealistic administrative expectations. Motormen are burdened with responsibilities that often extend beyond their purview, contributing to heightened job stress, he said.
Bhatnagar has advocated for a proactive approach to railway administrations, urging thorough investigation and understanding of SPAD incidents before resorting to punitive measures. He underscored the need for a supportive work environment to alleviate stress and ensure commuter safety, urging swift resolution to prevent further agitation among motormen.
CR has a shortage of 200 motormen. As per the CR 1,810 local train services on the main and harbour lines are operated daily with 500 motormen who are paid overtime for additional work hours. However, for an SPAD incident there is a provision in the railway for an employee’s removal from service.
People were seen walking on the train tracks out of frustration as the trains got delayed which is very unsafe and can cause harm to the passengers.