Rail Roko Update: Protest ends, train services between Matunga and CSMT resume from 10:35 am
Suburban rail services on Central Railway came to a grinding halt during peak hours on Tuesday morning after hundreds of students staged a ‘rail roko’ to protest against issues pertaining to railway recruitment.
* Railway officials have reached the spot and are trying to negotiate with protesting students. Officials claim over 3,000 students are protesting at Matunga.
* Mumbai’s dabbawalas stranded in Kurla, Mulund etc due to rail roko. Delivery of tiffins will be impacted.
* At least 30 trains have been cancelled on the Central line since morning.
* MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande joins protest stating “Until Railway Minister Piyush Goyal provides a written assurance to these students, these students won’t move from here.”
* MP Kirit Somaiya urges students to end the protest and come for discussion.
* Services on Harbour & Western lines unaffected by rail roko.
* BEST has started plying 68 additional buses to clear the rush.
* Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to address the media over the protests shortly.
* After almost four hours, services expected to resume as first train leaves platform amid heavy police presence.
— Rajendra B. Aklekar (@rajtoday) March 20, 2018
* Train services between Matunga and CSMT resume from 10:35 am.
Train services resume from 1035 hrs between Matunga and CSMT
— Central Railway (@Central_Railway) March 20, 2018
CR services affected:
Around 500 agitators blocked the tracks around 7 am today, due to which rail traffic on all four lines between Matunga and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) was brought to a halt. The movement of both local and express trains was affected.
Around 9 am, all rail traffic between CSMT and Khopoli was completely halted. “We are running Up locals that are terminating at Kurla and returning as Special in Down direction,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO Central Railway.
The agitation caused major overcrowding at already busy stations like Kalyan, Domivali, Thane, Ghatkopar, Dadar among others, because of which commuters have been advised to travel via the Harbour or Western line.
Unfortunately, while some commuters were in a position to switch to the other lines, others were left with no option but to wait for the agitation to subside and services to resume.
Reason for protest:
The protest has been organised by All India Railway Act Apprenticeship students, some of whom have been working with the railways for years without having been recruited.
The students have sought the removal of 20 percent upper limit for hiring of candidates who have cleared the Railway act apprentice exam for Railway jobs, and demanded that the quota be filled by only students who have passed the test.
“There has been no recruitment since last four years. We are struggling from pillars to post. Over ten students have committed suicide. We cannot let such things happen,” a student protester was quoted saying.
The students have also demanded a meeting with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
“We will not budge from here until and unless Railway Minister Piyush Goyal come and meet us. Our several prayers made to DRM (Divisional Railway Manager of Mumbai Division) have failed,” another student was quoted saying.
Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police personnel had to resort to lathi charge to disperse the crowd, which retaliated by throwing stones at the trains.
Some of the agitators have reportedly sustained minor injuries in the lathi charge.
Central Railway’s response:
CR officials, however, clarified that there was no provision of giving jobs to the apprentices as per the Apprentice Act.
“There is no provision of giving jobs to the apprentices as per the Apprentice Act. They are given only training of a specified period to improve their skills and experience of having worked in the field. However, Ministry of Railways have taken a decision and reserved 20 percent of the seats filled through direct recruitment,” it said.
“The notification is already issued with last date of submitting an application as March 31. Apprentices can apply against this notification and Special Examination will shortly be held for Apprentices who have done training in Railway Workshops under Apprentices Act,” it added.
A majority of Mumbai’s 40 lakh odd commuters that travel on the Central line every day were affected by today’s rail roko.
Moreover, the protest comes a day after scores of Ola and Uber drivers went off roads to protest against the falling revenues. The strike, which is continuing today, has further crippled the city by robbing citizens the means of commuting.
In the wake of the strike and rail roko, both wait times and surge pricing of the cab aggregators went through the roof, with some commuters reporting a surge of 5 to 6 times the regular fare.
BEST, meanwhile, has decided to run extra buses from Matunga and other affected stations to clear the excess rush. The huge influx of commuters, however, has led to further crowding in buses.