Thousands of commuters on the Central Railway (CR) were inconvenienced on Wednesday due to a four-hour-long block, owing to the construction work of a Foot Over Bridge (FOB) at Thakurli station. According to railway commuters, the block was supposed to commence at 9.45 am, but began from 9 am itself, with hardly any trains beyond Thane.
The block was across both the slow and fast lines, as well as the fifth and sixth line, which cater to long distance trains. Commuters complained that instead of the assured frequency of a local train every 15 minutes, trains between Dombivali and CSMT were spaced out and few in number, and came at an interval of 30-35 minutes. Once a train entered a platform, commuters jumped on the tracks to board from the other side.
A senior CR official said taking a block in the night for the work would have adversely affected the schedule of long distance trains, which enter Mumbai between 2 am and 7 am.
Lata Argade, Secretary of Upnagriya Railway Pravasi Ekta Mahasangh, said that since the railways was to take a block at 9.45 am, a lot of commuters came to catch a train early. The railways had, however, implemented its weekend timetable, which had lesser trains. “No amount of buses will be able to match the trains’ carrying capacity, which at a time carry 6,000 passengers,” she said. “Just because the railways have an off does not mean that everyone does too. They should have scheduled the girder launch on Sunday, when people are accustomed to fewer trains and blocks. It is a total failure on the railway administration’s part…”
Commuters complained that due to poor frequency, trains which came were not sufficient to carry all passengers. Satyawan Raut, who had come to Dombivali at 8 am, could only catch a train to Mulund at 12 pm. Singh said, “The trains which came were so crowded that there was no space to step inside. I had to miss several trains and wait for hours before I could manage to get one.”
There were about 20 additional bus services operated by Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC), but they proved to be insufficient for passengers. The work for launching the girder was finally completed around 1 pm, which was when services were started. Chief PRO of CR, Shivaji Sutar said, “This was the second and the longer span which had to be launched, and hence a block had to be taken across all six lines.”