They resorted to ‘rail roko’ at Talegaon railway station
Pune: Upset with the continuous delay of local trains on the Pune-Lonavla-Pune section, local passengers on Wednesday agitated against the railway administration. The passengers stopped a local train at the Talegaon station, which departs from Lonavla at 8.20 am. They also stopped both up and down trains for around 45 minutes. This delayed several trains but the train service resumed after an hour after the intervention by the railway administration.
Local trains have been continuously running late for the past few months. According to the passengers, Pune-Lonavla trains are often late during early morning hours. Among these local trains is the one that departs from the Pune railway station at 6.30 am while another departs from Pune at 9.55 am. A local train running between Shivajinagar and Lonavla departs at 11.20 am and is often delayed by 15 to 30 minutes.
Nitin Bhavsar, a commuter, said since a majority of the rakes used for local train services are old, they cannot achieve the intended speed of 100 kmph and hence get delayed. “Those going to offices and colleges often get delayed by half an hour or a full hour. The local train service is not reliable at all,” said Bhavsar. He added that last week, a local train took 50 minutes to cover a 7.5 km distance from Khadki to Pune.
Nitesh Sharma, who regularly travels by local trains, said, “Passengers and railway activists are demanding an increase in the number of local trains on Pune-Lonavla-Pune section and the railway administration is turning a deaf ear to the problem. Finally, many passengers decided that they would protest by resorting to ‘rail roko’.”
Harsha Shah of the Railway Pravasi Group said while there have been pending demands of additional local trains, considering the increasing commuter population, the way existing local services are being run is annoying passengers.
“Many prefer to use their own vehicles, buses or rickshaws because you cannot just rely on the local train service. The railway authorities should speed up the work of automation of signals, which may help local trains run on time. Otherwise, the day is not far when people would stop using the service at all,” said Shah. She added that failures of the train service have been on rise beside frequent mega blocks, which result in cancellation of services, affecting passengers.
During the protest by passengers, the railway administration gave an oral assurance that the problem will be solved soon. “We have taken this issue seriously and the railway is looking at all possibilities for not delaying local trains,” said a senior official of Pune railway division.