Shove 'em in if they crowd at door - 'Pushers' at stations hustle people into Metro so gates close smoothly
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- Published 17.10.10
Calcutta, Oct. 16: If the train doesn’t move, bring on the pushers.
But before you have a vision of an army of men straining to goad a Metro rake into motion — as they do to cars with sputtering engines — all that the pushers did was shove passengers in, away from the doors.
Calcutta’s Metro Railway authorities deployed “pushers” at several stations during Ashtami and Navami to ensure that passengers kept a minimum distance of four to five inches from the doors so they could shut properly and trains could run on time. If even one door of a compartment doesn’t shut properly, a train won’t move.
Metro sources said the plan worked to some extent. “The situation was very bad on Panchami, Sashthi and Saptami when schedules went haywire and trains were delayed by more than 10 minutes on an average. On Ashtami, the delay was reduced by half,” said an official.
“Closing the doors was a major problem as the trains were overcrowded. Passengers must maintain a minimum gap of four to five inches from the door so the gates can be closed,” said Metro Rail general manager Amar Nath.
The sources said the “pushers” were activated during the 7-11pm rush hour at stations like Kalighat, Dum Dum, Kavi Nazrul (Garia Bazar), Esplanade and Sovabazar.
According to officials, some 5.3 lakh passengers took the Metro on Ashtami. By late Navami evening, almost a similar number had taken the underground.
One of those who experienced the thrust was Tarun Brahmachari. The Garia resident had just boarded the train from Kavi Nazrul station yesterday and was trying to squeeze in when a pair of hands pushed him in from behind.
“The coach was crowded and I had just managed to squeeze myself in. But I was so close to the door that it refused to shut and kept opening. Suddenly, a pair of hands propelled me away from the door. I turned around to see an RPF official pushing me in. After that the door shut.”
A senior Railway Protection Force official said the pushers were deployed from among RPF personnel and volunteers. “At stations that were overcrowded, officers and constables were instructed to guide passengers on how to properly board the train and maintain a distance from the door. This is being done since yesterday to maintain punctuality,” the official added.
So the pushers did the trick? Barnali Mitra doesn’t think so.
“I was planning to go to Kalighat but got off at Park Street after boarding the train at Esplanade,” said the English honours student from Dum Dum. “The RPF men had pushed passengers into the train, causing suffocation.”
An RPF jawan at Park Street said some of the passengers got agitated after being pushed in. “But we explained to them that if they didn’t move inside, the train won’t move.”
Metro authorities have also engaged celebrities like Prosenjit to create awareness about the need to stay away from the doors and are screening the clips on television screens inside stations.
RPF officials said some 850 personnel had been deployed at stations to manage the Puja crowd, against the 280-odd on normal days.
“The pushers have helped us a lot. Passengers keep trying to board the train and we have to wait till all of them are inside. Even after that doors can’t be closed on the first attempt,” said a driver.
So be prepared for a push the next time you take the Metro. When it come to the push, Metro will shove, pushover or not.