A motley group of motormen from the unrecognised Western Railway Motormen's Association (WRMA) demonstrated at Churchgate demanding that they be given assistants during their commute to ensure greater safety.
The issue of safety has come to the fore after the railway board recently issued a circular. The circular stated that motormen guilty of jumping signals — called Signal Passing At Danger (SPAD) — be dismissed from service. SPAD is possibly the most dangerous of mistakes during the running of a train. Officials said with local trains running at a distance of a kilometre apart every three to four minutes, an SPAD in Mumbai can be disastrous.
WR is already looking at several such cases. The last dismissal was on December 30, 2013 after motormen JK Sahu jumped a signal at Borivli on June 19 last year. However, Sahu was reinstated on a technical consideration after an agitation by WRMA during the visit of railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge to Mumbai on January 23 this year.
Three long-distance loco pilots have already been dismissed from service over the past one year for similar offence.
WR officials on Monday said that the demonstration had no effect on the running of local trains and that delays faced by passengers in the afternoon were normal operational ones. "The appointment of assistant motormen is an issue concerning the railway board and nothing can be done about it at the local level," said a senior WR official.