Time to revamp Pune local trains

Aarti Chawla
Sunday, 21 April 2019

Travelling on the Pune-Lonavla local train is a task enjoyed by many but disliked by everyone, due to the inconvenience caused by the low frequency of trains and mega blocks time and again.

Travelling on the Pune-Lonavla local train is a task enjoyed by many but disliked by everyone, due to the inconvenience caused by the low frequency of trains and mega blocks time and again. Speaking to a few commuters, who travel all the way from Lonavala to Pune daily and vice versa, they said there is no other transport facility to commute between the two destinations, and even if it is there, they find it too costly to travel through that mode of transportation. 

Most of the travellers commuting on this route are either college students and working-class people, for whom there is no other transport facility to travel daily. 

Commuters who travel all the way from Lonavla to Pune and vice versa daily, said there is no other transport facility to commute between the two destinations and even if there is, they find it too costly. 

What this signifies is that the local train is the only means of travel for them.
 
In the last five to six years, there have been hardly any changes in the frequency of local trains and their timings. However, looking at the positive side, I can definitely see that there are good improvements in terms of infrastructure and also the level of cleanliness in and around railway stations has improved drastically.
 
When contacted, Manoj Jhawar, Spokesperson of Pune Railway Division, said, “Cancellation of trains which was done due to maintenance work on the railway lines has become less over the past few months. In total, daily 42 trains are running from Lonavla to Pune and vice-versa. At this moment we can’t commit anything.” 

When asked about the frequency of local trains on the route, the Railway spokesperson said, “We have sufficient number of trains running between these two destinations. We are trying our level best to maintain punctuality of trains in peak hours at which the commuters travel. Our punctuality ratio is the best in the whole central, it is 95 per cent. Also, the students and working class people who travel daily, have enough trains to travel and that too on time.”
 
On the women’s safety issue, Jhawar further elaborated that after 8 pm, in each women’s compartment, they have deployed an Railway Protection Force (RPF) soldier for their safety. 

However, the reality is a bit different from what the Pune Railway division spokesperson says. When I met a few passengers who commute daily on this route, they have a different opinion. 

Chaitali Gaikwad, a daily commuter, said, “There is no such thing as punctuality on this route. The train is always late, even in peak hours.”Talking about the timings, she added, “Most of the local trains are more or less 5 to 10 minutes late.” 

When questioned about the security provided in the ladies compartment, she said, “I travel after 8 pm and I don’t always see a guard manning the compartment. And even if there is, it’s only in the first class compartment and not in the general class.” 

Another passenger, Vijay Londhe, said, “I don’t like to travel by local trains any more. Most of the trains in the afternoon have been cancelled, which creates a lot of problem for the commuters. The trains are never on time and there should be an increase in the frequency of local trains on this route.” 

Other passengers who travel daily said they are penalised at office for being late. The officials should concentrate more on the existing public transport rather than new ones. For the relief of passengers, the railway officials said, a new line is being built from Shivajinagar to Lonavla and the work is expected to be completed by June.

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