Lakhs of commuters were stranded on Monday at railway stations across the city’s suburban railway network after about 200 local train services were canceled as heavy rains lashed the city late into the evening.
In addition to cancellations, train services that ran on Monday were delayed by about an hour on Central Railway (CR), by about 45 minutes on the Harbour line and by about 25 to 30 minutes on the Western Railway (WR) between Churchgate and Virar.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday sent out heavy rainfall warning in Mumbai and “extremely heavy” rainfall warning in the adjoining districts of Palghar and Thane. While the district administration in Palghar issued a “high alert” in 27 villages and asked schools to remain closed on Tuesday, the IMD too has urged residents to get weather updates before they step out of their homes on Tuesday.
Traffic across the city crawled on account of various rain-related problems on roads and an accident on the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road. Many office-goers were unable to clock in at work as the rail network was badly hit, particularly during the morning peak hours.
Trains continued to run nearly 45 minutes late on the Harbour line even late into the evening, stretching the homeward journey of many commuters who had waited for the rainfall to abate, in vain, as the skies reserved the heaviest downpour for the evening. The CR train services between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Karjat-Kasara were hit after high tide and heavy rain led to flooding on the railway tracks between Sion and Kurla, a troublesome stretch that has seen frequent flooding over the years. The water-logging that began at about 8 am escalated till about 10.30 am, upsetting the morning peak hours. A senior officer from CR said 30 water pumps were deployed on the stretch and it was about 2 pm when the water was finally pumped out.
After waiting in futility, many commuters walked on the tracks between Nahur and Bhandup railway stations. Others traveled halfway to work but failed to reach their office and returned home. According to information provided by the chief public relations officer Sunil Udasi, due to the heavy rain, 102 local train services were canceled on the Central main line and Harbour line. As many as 72 local trains on the main line and 31 on Harbour line were canceled.
Girish Chavan (38), an engineer whose office is in Parel, who boarded the local train from Titwala, which was the 7.31 am CSMT-bound train, said he took the local train from Titwala but had to come back from Vidyavihar because of non-availability of trains. Amitesh Shah (30), a banker whose office is located in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), said he had come to Titwala station to take the 10.37 am CSMT-bound fast train but after waiting till 12.20 pm, he went home by an autorickshaw.
Due to the delay in local train services, a massive number of commuters who were stranded on Thane railway station ran towards the local train as it arrived on the platform. During boarding, two to three women fell on the platform. A video went viral after which the CPRO of Central Railway took notice of the situation. The CPRO said it was a peak hour because of which special staff of 500 people, including that from the Railway Protection Force and Commercial Frontline Guard, was deployed on platforms to manage the crowd.
After heavy showers, local train services between Churchgate and Virar ran 20 to 25 minutes behind schedule. But at around 8 am, construction material for building repairs fell on an overhead wire (OHE) at Marine Lines, which led to the cancellation of 100 local train services on WR. Ravinder Bhakar, CPRO, WR, said after getting the information, railway engineers rushed to the site and started the repair work and around 11.02 am services were restored. Other than this, due to heavy rain since Sunday night, there were delays in local train services. He further added that between Churchgate and Virar, no water-logging has been reported.
Surabhi Puri, who works with a digital agency in Lower Parel, said she spent six hours on the road on Monday. “In the morning, several trains were vacated in Bandra. Trains towards South Mumbai were overcrowded and the crowd on the station kept swelling,” she said.
However, passengers headed out of the city too were a part of the commuters’ ordeal. On account of water-logging issues at the Palghar railway station, not only the local train services but also 40 Express trains were hit because of which long-route passengers had to wait for other transport arrangements.
According to information provided by WR, unprecedented and incessant heavy rains up to 361 mm in Palghar area during the night of June 30 and 100 mm in just one hour between 4 am and 5 am on July 1 with cumulative rainfall of 1,137 mm led to water-logged railway tracks.
However, the long-distance train operations were managed by clamping the tracks and running the trains at restricted speed over the affected section. All morning, long-distance trains were operated, though with some delays, except some which were short terminated or canceled. Bhakar said 14 trains, including MEMU trains were canceled, 10 trains were rescheduled and 15 trains were short terminated. The canceled trains include Bandra (T)-Surat Intercity Express and the Mumbai Central-Surat Flying Ranee. Trains which were short terminated included Karnavati Express and Double Decker Express, which were short terminated at Borivali.
Glitches in train services continued late into the night with Panvel-bound services on Harbour line delayed by up to 45 minutes. Train services on Harbour line were disrupted after a rake failure of 8.28 pm CST-Belapur bound train at Wadala railway station. According to the officials, the problem was reported around 8.50 pm and initially, railway staff tried to rectify the glitches but to no avail. Later, the train was removed. This caused a delay of more than 45 minutes on the north-bound side.