By bappaditya paul
Apparently after collecting data on passenger travel, the Metro Railway recently introduced a new “peak-hour” slot for its train services, but this is causing severe inconvenience to the passengers.
Metro Railway introduced the new schedule on 29 May, wherein instead of 9-10 a.m, which is normally considered rush-hour, it picked up two new “peak-hour” slots for running Metro trains at five-minute intervals.
According to the new schedule, in the morning, the “peak-hour” for the trains from Dum Dum to New Garia is 10-11 a.m. and for the trains from New Garia to Dum Dum, it is 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
During the evening, the “peak-hour” for the trains from Dum Dum to New Garia is 5-6 p.m. and for the trains from New Garia to Dum Dum it is 6-7 p.m.
The Metro authorities introduced the new schedule with the stated objective of giving commuters the benefit of five-minute service. But instead, this is now proving to be a bane for its patrons.
While the commuters do not have too many complaints about the selection of evening “peak-hour”, there is widespread resentment about the morning slot.
This is because their peak-hour and the Metro’s peak-hour do not tally and as a result a large section of commuters is failing to reach their destination on time.
“The selection of 11 a.m.-12 p.m. as the peak-hour period is simply bizarre and there should be a probe from whose fertile brain this idea has come up. For commuters like me, who used to rely on the Metro to reach office on time, are the worst hit,” said Ms Madhumita Basu, a Central government employee who travels from Masterda Surya Sen (Usha Gate) station to Rabindra Sadan everyday.
What is worse, for commuters travelling from New Garia in its so-called generosity to provide trains at five-minute interval from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m, the Metro has increased the gap between trains to eight-minute between 9-10 a.m.
As a result, Metro trains these days are witnessing excessive pressure during the actual peak-hour (9-10 a.m.), leaving the commuters in the lurch, especially women, who are complaining of physical harassment in crammed trains.
“Instead of this present five-minute service during the so called “peak-hour”, the previous schedule was far more beneficial for us when the trains were running at six-minute interval for 11 hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Moreover, that schedule was uniform for trains from both directions,” said Mr Abinash Choudhury, who lives at Baguiati and avails the Metro service from Belgachhia station.
The Metro authorities, however, said the new schedule was finalised after analysing the data on passenger flow.
“Data was collected from each of the 23 stations to identify the period when commuters avail Metro trains more and the new schedule was decided accordingly,” said the Metro Railway spokesperson, Mr Protyush Ghosh.
“Moreover, keeping in mind the high flow of passengers at Tollygunge in the morning, we are operating three additional trains from midway at the Mahanayak Uttam Kumar station. This, in effect, is offering the commuters from Tollygunge five-minute Metro service for an additional half-an-hour between 8.45 – 9.15 a.m” he said.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This piece first appeared in The Statesman on 12 July 2012.)