Chaos and stampede-like situation were reported at several stations on the transharbour corridor on Friday, as commuters thronged to board the Central Railway’s air-conditioned local train on the first day of its regular run.
The air-conditioned (AC) trains reportedly halted for more than a minute at each station, instead of its scheduled halt of 20 seconds, as automated doors could not be closed due to overcrowding. As a cascading effect at least 52 locals were hit by a delay of over 15 to 20 minutes that pulled down the transharbour corridor’s punctuality record to 60 per cent.
The corridor is otherwise known to have around 95 per cent punctuality on a regular day, one of the better records among Mumbai locals.
The AC service, which will ply between Thane and Panvel, was flagged off by Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi Thursday. On its inaugural run as well the train reportedly took 17 minutes more than the regular travel time of 52 minutes to cover the 35 km. On its return journey, it was again delayed by seven minutes.
On Friday, the first AC train departed from Panvel at 5.44 am, its scheduled time. However, by the time it reached Thane (the terminating station), its travel time had extended by an hour. The delay reportedly had a cascading effect on all the local trains running on the transharbour corridor, Central Railway (CR) officials said.
Rahul Bhoir, a student of DY Patil College, said, “The local trains were running late…so we boarded the AC local unaware that a separate ticket has to be taken to ride it.” In the ensuing chaos, several passengers with a ticket for AC local were unable to board the train.
The CR had deployed around 100 security personnel of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) at major stations, such as Thane, Vashi and Turbhe, and 10 RPF men inside the trains to inform passengers without a valid ticket to board the AC trains. “Instead of imposing a penalty on passengers for travelling without valid tickets, we deployed more staff to inform passenger to board the AC locals only if they have a valid ticket,” KK Ashraf, Senior Divisional Commissioner for RPF, CR, said.
According to officials, the situation reportedly normalised after 12 pm when the AC trains pulled to the car shed after completing its morning runs. When the AC service resumed around 4 pm, officials said, the delay was curtailed to around 10 minutes.
Shivaji Sutar, Chief PRO, CR, said, “It will take a few days for the system to stabilise. We are urging passengers to not board the trains without a valid ticket.”
Meanwhile, 15 technicians were deployed inside AC trains to resolve any glitches that arose.