For Section, engineers, gangmen and officials in the train traffic control room, there is hardly a moment to catch their breath while it pours in the city. While Mumbai may be no stranger to disruption of train services due to heavy showers, at least 500 railway personnel work in five different departments of railways to keep the trains on track.
On a rainy days, at least two section engineers are posted at major railway stations to check for water level on the tracks. “Trains cannot run if water level on the track exceeds four inches. If we see tracks are getting waterlogged, we immediately report to senior officials or the control room to take precautionary action,” a senior railway official said.
The engineers are posted at stations including Sion, Sandhurst Road, Kurla on the Central Railway and stations between Kandivali and Borivali on the Western Railway. Officials from the civil engineering, operations, electrical engineering, control and public relations share a majority of the responsibilities. While civil and electrical engineers look after the technical aspects of train running, operations and control monitor train running and check on loss of trains.
On the Central Railway, tracks at Sandhurst Road station, Sion, Dadar and Parel get waterlogged sooner, while Nallasopara station on the Western Railway witnessed chronic flooding last season. Section engineers are also required to caution motormen to drive slow when the tracks are heavily flooded. “The positioning of senior officials at vulnerable locations for close monitoring, efforts of field staff, intensive drains and culvert cleaning, additional pumps of high power ensures that the lifeline of Mumbai keeps running,” said Sunil Udasi, chief spokesperson, Central Railway.
The railways also takes inputs from the Indian Meteorological Department about rainfall forecast. “We mobilise resources if heavy rains are predicted for the next day. We deploy special care to monitor vulnerable locations where water floods quickly,” a senior railway official said. The railways has also reduced the strength of old retro rakes from their fleet, as they would maroon sooner. Commuters have praised railways for running trains, despite heavy waterlogging on the tracks. “Besides a delay of 10-15 minutes, trains continued to run on the Central Railway. While I usually avoid taking trains when it rains heavily, their show has been commendable,” said Rajini Shah, a regular commuter on Tilak Nagar station to Vashi route.