Commuters face nightmare on Pune-Lonavala localsNews — By The Desk on August 19, 2010 at 12:42 PM
Indian Express: Twenty-five-year-old Asha P, who works at a mall, travels from Pimpri-Chinchwad to Pune everyday by a Pune-Lonavala local train. She catches one of three locals between 8.30 am and 10 am, but with tremendous difficulty. “All the three locals are packed to capacity, there is not even space to place your feet. Even the women’s compartments overflow,” she grumbles.
Like Asha, thousands of local train commuters — mainly office-goers and college students — everyday face the travelling nightmare. And this has been going on for over 30 years as the Central Railways have neither increased the frequency of Pune-Lonavala trains nor have they put additional locals in service.
Everyday, between one lakh to 1.50 lakh commuters travel by the Pune-Lonavala locals. There are four rakes currently. They make forty trips between Pune and Lonavala and Pune and Talegaon. Various passenger groups have been demanding an increase in the frequency of local trains services, but the Central Railways have remained unmoved. Three Pune MPs including Supriya Sule, Shivajirao Patil and Gajanan Babar, had last year promised to take up the local train issue in Parliament as well as Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, but so far nothing has happened.
Harsha Shah, president of the Railway Pravasi Group, said the Pune division officials of the Central Railways are at fault.
“Since 1996, when the Pune division came into effect, the officials have not seriously taken up the cause of Pune commuters with the Railway Ministry. Neither people’s representatives have shown any serious concern,” she said. Shah said commuters have to travel in jampacked local trains everyday including at peak hours and non-peak hours. “There has been no respite for commuters for three decades. And there is going to be no respite any time soon as the railways have plan to increase the frequency of local trains,” she said.
Shah alleged the various passengers groups have time to time submitted various plans to the Central Railways, but officals show little interest. “Except for local trains becoming 12 rakes from nine rakes, nothing has changed,” she said. The frequency has been a serious issue for commuters in Pune. The average gap between two trains is one and half hours.
“This is shocking because in Mumbai, you get one local train every five minutes. And look at cavalier attitude of the railways at Pune commuters,” said Rajendra Mote, a commuter. Shah said the demand for train every five minute had already been placed before the Central Railway officials. “This is quite possible. What the railways need to do is to rescheduled certain train timings. For instance, if the express trains are not giving priority over local trains, every five minute local train idea is quite is achievable,” Shah said.
Central Railway spokesperson Suhas Lokhare said the demand for additional rakes had been placed with the railway headquarters. “But we have no idea when we will get additional rakes. Once we get additional rakes, we will be in a position to increase the frequency of local trains,” he said.