More people have started living beyond Kalyan and railway stations in these areas have seen several more passengers in the past few years, but railway authorities have failed to adapt train services and stations to cater to the demand.
The result, said railway activists, is delayed services and technical failures.
In just six months, this section — the route passes through satellite towns and cities of Badlapur, Ambarnath, Ulhasnagar, Karjat,all the way to Kasara — has witnessed massive commuter agitations twice, one at Badlapur on August 12 and the second at Titwala on Wednesday. Both incidents were sparked because of delayed services, with passengers demanding punctuality.
“Although it is a crucial region for railways, as most long-distance trains pass from here, it continues to be highly neglected. The section sees several rail fractures and technical failures. While officials should be monitoring the tracks closely, they continue to be apathetic,” said Aniket Ghamandi, a member of the Mumbai suburban passengers federation.
That trains run late on this route is no secret. The deteriorating punctuality of CR trains was pointed out in the 2016 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, which put the punctuality of CR services at 87% in 2014-15, against the Railway Board’s benchmark of 95%. Last year, this came down to 83%, but gradually improved to 88% in the past few months.
So what does the system lack? Railway officials said the Kalyan-Kasara section is saturated and there is hardly any room to run new trains — which they said was the solution. For this, railway authorities have undertaken a Kalyan-Kasara third line project, but this work is moving at a very slow pace.
The section also needs extra lines as many goods trains take the Kasara-Igatpuri route. “So there are delays even when long-distance or goods trains fail,” said one source.
The extra line may take several years to be completed, as CR authorities are yet to acquire land parcels at certain locations. “We have finalised tenders for some construction work, but some land acquisition is still pending,” said a senior railway official, not wishing to be named.
Another senior official said people should understand the entire suburban system is over-burdened. “They need to be more tolerant, as there is no space to add new services,” the official said
Meanwhile, Ravindra Goyal, divisional railway manager of CR said that they are going to probe the reasons behind the power block.