As Monsoon looms, Railway authorities in Mumbai try to rope in Crowd Management Experts

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MUMBAI: As the memory of the Elphinstone-Parel stampede still haunts Mumbaikars, the railway authorities are planning to rope in crowd management experts who handle the enormous crowd at Nashik’s Kumbh Mela in order to prevent a stampede situation during the monsoon.

The authorities will be deploying personnel at the entrance of stations to guide the commuters on crowding on foot over bridges and platforms.

According to sources, railway staff will be making announcements regarding the crowd gathered at different points and the pace at which it is moving on microphones and speakers.

The personnel will be standing at a distance of 20-30 metres from the station and maintain constant communication with the railway police force (RPF) and the Maharashtra State Security Force and Home guards. The announcements will help people make a decision on whether or not to take the premises.

SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager of Central Railway said, “We have asked the police authorities and crowd management experts from Nashik who have handled Kumbh Mela to train our staff during this monsoon. This will help in managing the crowd on 13 vulnerable stations.”

“We had a detailed discussion on various issues of crowd management with the railways,” said Dr Ravinder Singal, Commissioner of Police, Nashik. Apart from this, the experts have suggested the need to deploy specific people with uniforms so that commuters can approach them for help. The railway authorities wants to tread the path followed by China, where authorities are given bright fluorescent uniforms which commuters can identify, informed sources.

They shall also be taking help of the CCTVs installed at stations. The cyber officers monitoring them will give specific information of crowding at locations, the situation on the staircase of FOBs and the number of people waiting at the entry/exit points.

The Central Railways have appointed 259 staff of the Maharashtra State Security Force and 122 home guards for managing crowds at stations. Similarly, the Western Railways have appointed 300 plus MSSF and home guards for the same.

Major problems commuters face on Central Railway:

  • Waterlogging at many stations including Kurla, Sion, Parel, Matunga and Dadar
  • Delays of trains by at least 25-40 minutes
  • CR Services shutdown after heavy rainfall, leads to cancellation of trains without proper intimation
  • Overcrowding at platforms and Foot Over Bridges
  • Trains get stuck on tracks due to heavy rainfall

Central Railway Preparation for Monsoon 2018:

1. Drain, Culvert and Nullah Cleaning at CSTM, Kurla, Kalyan

In order to sweep away the woes commuters face every monsoon, the Mumbai Division of Central Railway has gone overboard to make sure that it is fully prepared for the monsoons. The CR claims that apart from desilting of culverts, major nullahs (Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg, Ghatkopar-Vikhroli, Kurla Terminal Nullah) and drains (CSTM-Kanjurmarg, Kanjurmarg-Kalyan, CSTM-Panvel), measures have been taken to ensure quick discharge of water and eliminate any possibility of flooding of tracks.

Important culvert cleaning has been taken up at Kurla-Vidyavihar (Culvert No 16/1 bet CLA-VVH), Vidyavihar-Ghatkopar (Culvert No 18/2 bet VVH-GC), Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg (Culvert No 24/1 bet VK-KJRD), Mulund-Nahar (Culvert No 29/5), Mulund-Thane (Culvert No 31/4) among others.

2. New Pumps Installed at CSTM, Thane, Kalyan

About 15 additional pumps are provided by Railways as compared to last year to control flooding during the monsoons. Two additional pumps of capacity 1000 m3/hrs are provided in MCGM area at Sion and Kurla, where maximum flooding took place last monsoon. Two rounds of cleaning have already been completed. Central Railway, PRO, AK Singh said, “At stations where water-logging is expected and there are chances that trains may stop running, we have provided additional pumps so that excess water can be thrown out with the help of the pump and trains keep running smoothly. BMC and KDMC too have provided pumps for Railways. In total 60 pumps are going to be installed by Central Railway.”

Section Nos of pumps provided by Municipality Nos of pumps provided by Railways Total
CST-Thane 16 18 34
Thane-Kalyan 0 1 1
CSTM-Mankhurd 2 17 19
Thane-Turbhe 0 1 1
Kalyan-Karjat 0 5 5
Total 18 42 60

3. Crowd Control Measures

Sunil Udasi, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway told that adequate steps have been taken to ensure that commuters do not face any hurdles this monsoon. He also claimed that around 13 critical FOBS are identified and staff is deployed for crowd control. “At least 259 MSF jawans plus 220 RPF and RPSF staff as quick response teams are deployed by Central Railway. Staff is deployed for crowd control and also, mock drills are conducted at important stations Dadar, Parel, Currey Road, Chinchpokali, Ghatkopar and Kurla,” he informed.

4. New Cover Sheds to avoid overcrowding

Additional 20 square meter cover sheds at the exit of FOBs on seven identified stations including Mumbra, Kalva, Thane, Mulund, Nahur, Currey Road and Kurla. De-congestion of platform area by removing/re-locating structures at 20 locations.

5. 14 new FOBs this monsoon

Additional 14 Foot Over Bridges (FOBs) are added since last Monsoon to further de-congest platforms and ease out passenger out flow. MCGM has been requested for creation of no hawking zone within 150 mtrs. from the station approach.
Additional foot over bridges are added since previous monsoon including Kalyan (6 metres ), Nahur (6 meters), Curry Road (3.66 meters), Thane (6 meters), Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (6 meters), Asangaon (6 meters), Neral (6 meters), Tilak Nagar ( 6 meters), Currey Road by Army (3.5 meters), Parel by Army (3.5 meters), Ambivli by Army (3.5 meters), Chunabhatti (6.35 meters), Parel (To be added in first week of June) (12.0 meters), Sewree (will be added in mid June 2018) (6 meters).

6. Rationalisation of Suburban services

CR have adopted Sunday/Holiday time table on high tide and heavy rainfall days. So, 1384 local train services will run against 1732, which is approx 80 per cent, on Sundays/holidays and when there is high tide alert based on inputs provided by IMD officials. “During flooding, trains gets marooned passengers and there is disruption to traffic, so CR has rationalized suburban services,” Singh said.

7. Regular monitoring of water levels

“We deploy extra employees called gangman/trackman who monitor the water level and inform the control room about the situation at each station. According to the report provided by the staff deployed at different stations, the controller takes the decision on whether the trains should be stopped or kept running. Tiranga is provided at the station where flooding takes place. The Tiranga as we call is in three colours – yellow, green and red. At the green level, the trains runs normally, yellow symbolises trains need to reduce speed and run mostly on slow track and when there is red flag, we have to stop the trains.

“During heavy rains, we ensure that the trains do not get marooned and this helps us do that as motor of the train may get destroyed because of excess water. In such cases, we ensure that wherever the trains are stuck- on platform or shed, they remain safe,” Singh added.

8. Raising heights of tracks to avoid water-logging

CR’s General Manager DK Sharma and SK Jain, DRM,Central Railway inspected Badlapur, Ambernath, Kalyan and Parel stations to ensure there is no flooding. “DK Sharmaji visited the sites and found a lot of mess and litter around the stations that can lead to flooding. He has given strict instructions to the station masters to make sure all the mess is taken away at the earliest.Also, at Parel station, the work is being done for the new platform,” Singh informed.

At locations where there is water-logging, CR raises the height of tracks a little to make sure there is no flooding. “Every monsoon we get to know about stations where flooding can take place and then our team of engineers work with the gangman accordingly to raise the heights of the tracks so that trains keep running. We have ensured that this year commuters will not have to face delays in the local train service,” Singh concluded.

Trains running slightly late

The train services on both Western and Central Railway were marginally affected and trains were running late by 10-15 minutes till afternoon. There was waterlogging till the rail level at Sion, Kurla and Tilak Nagar, but it did not affect train movements.

In the evening, there were technical issues on Central Railway that led to further delays on the harbour line.

In the morning hours when it rained, the trains were partially affected due to visibility issues. Sources said that as it rained heavily, the motormen had to slow down. This led to delays in train services by up to a quarter hour.

There was waterlogging on the tracks as well. “It, however, did not affect train services,” said Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer, Central Railway.

Within a couple of hours or less, water levels receded and trains resumed smoothly operations.

“There were no issues on our lines throughout the day,” said Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer, Western Railway.

The railways claims that the services will be affected only if it rains beyond 70mm continuously.

WR will be keeping 74 water pumps along the rail lines between Churchgate and Virar to drain rainwater from the tracks. CR will instal 60 pumps.

The BEST had to divert 20 bus routes namely passing Sion, Kings Circle, Hindmata, and Bandra Talkies.