Metros is ready, but where’s the driver?

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If the East-West Metro is extended to Sealdah, the number of passengers will increase at a drastic rate. But there is great uncertainty within the metro about whether train and service times can be extended overnight at all. According to Metro sources, at least three times the current number of drivers will be required to increase the number. Doubts have been raised about how so many motormen will be arranged to cope up while maintaining the North-South Metro service. Although the metro authorities claim, the shortage of motormen will be filled by bringing in drivers from the Eastern and South-Eastern Railways.

At present there are 21 drivers on the East-West Metro to run 48 trains daily five days a week from Sector Five to Phulbagan. In metro unlike the usual trains it runs on the sole responsibility of the driver. There are no guards in the back room. According to the source, it would take at least three times the current people to run the train every 10 minutes.

At present there should be 268 motormen in North-South and East-West Metro. Where more or less 220 people are working there. Many of them are also retiring. According to Metro sources, the recruitment of direct drivers through the Railway Recruitment Board has been stopped since 2012 on the instructions of the Railway Board.

Instead, the JPO agreement (Joint Procedure Order) between Eastern Railway, South Eastern Railway and Metro Rail provided the required drivers from the other two Railways. Motormen from the South-Eastern Railway have stopped coming for many days. Due to the increase in the number of trains in the Eastern Railway, the expected number of drivers is not also fulfilled. In addition, drivers from those two railways are alleged to have been deprived of promotions and other financial benefits due to their arrival in Lien. For which many are not interested to come in Metro.

According to Metro sources, the crew is reviewed when new lines are opened or services are extended to new stations. The last time that review was in 2018. After that East-West Metro service has been extended to Dakshineswar. As a result, new stations and line services had to be started with the help of people at hand. The workload on metro drivers is increasing as many have already retired. In this context, an officer said, “Right now the drivers have to take enough work pressure. If that pressure is increased, it may not be safe for the service.”

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