Heavy showers drowned the Railways’ claims of being rain-ready, with as many as 223 services cancelled and many others delayed on the Central Railway (CR) on Tuesday. Following heavy showers through Monday night, services were hit due to water-logging on the tracks, leaving many commuters stranded on railway platforms for hours.
The Central Railway authorities reported water-logging at Mazagaon, Vidyavihar, Vikhroli, Bhandup and Thane stations on the main line section. The effect was felt from the morning, when all up and down fast line services on the main line were suspended from 05.53 am to 07.03 am. This led to bunching of mail and express trains, further delaying services.
“Harbour and transharbour line trains were running late by at least 10-15 minutes. Both up and down line services on the fast line had to be diverted on the slow line between CST and Mulund. Services resumed slowly in the later hours of the day,” a CR official confirmed.
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Meanwhile, tension prevailed at Diva station after commuters complained of stone-pelting on trains. Denying this, Rupali Ambure, Divisional Commissioner of Police, Government Railway Police (GRP), said, “No such incident of stone-pelting or violence was reported to us, or seen by our authorities. Yes, platforms were overcrowded with people waiting to board trains. Commuters were also seen crossing the tracks in their attempts to catch whichever train was coming on the platform. We deployed a good strength of GRP and RPF officials at Diva station for safety.”
Also, a landslide was witnessed between Thane and Kalyan railway stations in the morning. A protection wall built by the authorities of Thane Municipal Corporation(TMC) between the stations was damaged, and authorities rushed to the spot to repair it.
“Problem persisted in the Parsik Tunnel between Thane and Kalyan railway stations, where the landslide took place. Trains were asked to slow down around the tunnel due to the fear of friction with the walls,” a CR official said.
Officials from TMC later asked the railway officials to take a one-hour block — from 2pm to 3 pm — for immediate restoration of the protection wall. “We asked the CR to suspend services for some time owing to the restoration work. After almost three hours, the wall was built again and train services restored,”a TMC official said.
Train services continued to run up to 40 minutes behind schedule on the main line.
Explaining the monsoon measures taken by the CR, Narendra Patil, Chief Public Relations Officer, said, “This was the first heavy shower witnessed by the city and thus a little disruption was witnessed. After a few showers, the services will run smoothly. We will continue to abide by the monsoon precaution measures in place for the Central Railway.”
Commuters and activists, however, were irked. “Disruptions on CR have become almost a daily affair. However, what happened on Tuesday was specially bad. I feel the cleaning of drains and tracks should start by March instead of May, so that it can be completed on time. Even now, the drains at Thane station have not been cleaned at all,” Vijay Aravamudhan, a railway activist, said.
Commuters’ problems were worsened by the taxi and auto-rickshaw strike against Ola and Uber services, with few taxis on the roads to serve as alternatives to trains.