CHENNAI: The move of Chennai Metro Rail to extend its operation timings, has been strongly opposed by employees who claim the extension to be an unplanned one due to lack of manpower. This comes in the wake of CMRL’s decision to increase its working hours from 4.30 am to 11 pm by April second week.
Basic problems overlooked
Insufficient number of permanent employees including station controllers and reduced time to carry out track and train maintenance, are the major factors that haven’t been thought through to support this extension, said employees. Poor maintenance in turn, will result in sudden haltings, increased wear and tear of tracks and trains, that has been experienced many times earlier, throughout the phase one stretch.
“We need a minimum of two hours to stop the power supply and carry out the maintenance works for the train and tracks. The track maintenance vehicle runs very slowly at five km/hr only. The vehicle will take one hour to reach Alandur from Koyambedu to do the necessary repairs. So there will be hardly any time for maintenance after timings are extended,” said a CMRL employee.
Also, employees claimed that CMRL is yet to recruit 160 trained employees though they have passed the necessary exams and are instead depending on unskilled contract labourers to support this move. Since January 21, employees have been asked to report to work by 3 am on a trial basis for this extension in timings even though train services were running from 6 am to 10 pm.
“Those who take care of the evening shift, reach home only by 1 am and are again asked to report to work by 3 am. The root cause of working overtime is because of less number of employees. Without addressing this problem, how can services be extended blindly?” questioned another employee.
What officials say
However, CMRL officials refuted such claims and said they have enough manpower in place to support the functioning of extra hours.
Officials said that stability of the 45 kilometer- phase one stretch has been improved and strengthened for the extension. “We need only additional security personnel to guard the stations and we will be soon hiring more people from a private security agency. But we have sufficient number of employees to support this move. Possible future problems have already been looked into,” said an official.
The extensions in timings will largely help passengers who are frequent travellers, as once the services are extended, there will be a train every 30 minutes during early mornings and late nights. “Accordingly, the timing of last-mile connectivity options like share auto and taxi will be extended. Tenders for this have been finalised and by April end or May first week, taxis and auto timings will also be increased,” added an official.