Mumbai News : A group of commuters staged a rail roko agitation on Friday at Kalwa to protest Railways’ decision to change the 8:20 non-AC Thane-CSMT train into an AC local service. Kalwa police detained seven protestors for attempting to stop trains.
“The empty rake exiting the car shed was detained by commuters for about 20 minutes from 8:10 am to 8:30 am. The police took the protestors into custody and services on the main line continued to remain unaffected during peak hours,” said Shivaji Sutar, CPRO, Central Railway.
This incident, however, delayed the AC local by 20 minutes in the morning. The commuters protested near the car shed exit thus not impacting the services on the main line. Meanwhile, the protestors claim that the police lathi-charged them to clear the tracks.
“The Central Railway should either reduce fares for AC locals such that everyone can afford it or not increase the frequency during peak hours. Most of the suburban train travellers are middle class and cannot afford AC tickets. Moreover, there is no provision for first-class passengers to pay the extra one-time amount and board AC locals,” said Rajat Mehta, 53, a regular commuter from Mumbra to CSTM.
The Central Railway recently announced 10 additional AC local services that will replace the existing non-AC services in the city from August 19.
“Some of us have been boarding this local for the last 19 years when it halts near Kalwa car shed. On Friday when it was replaced by the AC local we had no option. Trains arriving from Kalyan and Dombivli are packed making it difficult for us to board. Boarding the trains going from the car shed is the only way we can travel safely to our destination,” said Sanjeev Raut, 48, a regular commuter from Kalwa to Parel.
It has been a common phenomenon for Kalwa commuters to board the Thane-CSMT train while it is on its way to Thane from the Kalwa car shed. This is also another reason that they want Kalwa station to have starting trains towards CSMT during morning peak hours.
Earlier this month, commuters from Kalwa, Mumbra and Diva had planned a protest on August 6 as they are not benefitting from the additional 5th and 6th railway lines. Although the protest was called off, the commuters put forth a slew of demands that included a home platform at Kalwa and a halt for fast trains at Kalwa. The commuters are also requesting that the 5th and 6th lines be used for fast local trains in place of the current mail trains.
Siddhesh Desai, a member of Kalwa Parsik Rail Pravasi Sangh, said, “It is not possible for Kalwa commuters to travel for 40 minutes by road till Thane to board a starting train. The trains heading towards Thane halt outside Kalwa station for two to three minutes for a signal. At this exact point, a platform can be made making it convenient for Kalwa residents to board the train and travel conveniently. Moreover, the fifth and sixth line is only been used for mail trains however if fast trains use this corridor, it will save time and will be convenient as well.”