It just took six hours of continuous rainfall on Wednesday to wash out monsoon preparedness claimed by Central Railway (CR), with commuters stranded in halted trains or at platforms or seen walking on railway tracks. With four inches of water above the rail level, morning services were paralysed for over two hours on both the Main Line and Harbour Line of CR after 11 am.
“Due to heavy rains and waterlogging at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Bhandup on the Main Line and Govandi and Chunabhatti on the Harbour line, suburban services were disrupted,” said Narendra Patil, Chief Public Relations Officer, CR. The first spell of rain reflected poorly on the pre-monsoon work done by railway authorities. On May 20, CR had claimed to have “geared up for ensuing monsoons for smooth running of suburban train services”.
Of the 20 water pumps installed by CR, 11 were in the CST-Thane section, which incidentally was the worst affected stretch on Wednesday morning. In addition, the BMC too installed 14 water pumps between CST and Thane and two between CST and Mankhurd to remove excess water from tracks.
Yet another claim of providing digital axle counters at Byculla, Parel, Sion, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Vikhroli, Kanjurmard, Mulund, Thane, Kalva, Mumbra, Kalyan and Chunabhatti did not help commuters as trains were brought to a halt soon after waterlogging. The digital axle counters are meant to ensure that trains continue to run even if there is a signal failure owing to excessive flooding.
“At Kurla, the points used for diverting trains on Harbour Line were submerged. They had to be physically clamped and the process took a while. Axle counters are helpful only when waterlogging on railway tracks is within manageable limits. However, with water level being four inches above rail level, even axle counters were not of much help,” Patil said.
While trains on the Up and Down slow tracks of the main line were non-functional from 11.30 am to 2 pm, trains on Harbour Line remained halted between 11 am and 1.34 pm. “Slow locals were running 15-30 minutes and Harbour Line locals were running 30-40 minutes behind schedule during this period,” a CR spokesperson said.
Over 80 services were cancelled as a result of the disruption. Meanwhile due to waterlogging at Sion, Dahisar, Mulund, Malad, LBS road, Kurla and S V Road, buses on close to 40 BEST routes were diverted during the day, a BEST spokesperson said.