Heavy rain that battered large parts of suburban Mumbai and a landslide at the century-old Parsik tunnel left thousands of Central Railway commuters stranded for hours on Sunday, as railway tracks at Thane, Kalwa, Dombivli and Thakurli were flooded.
Suburban services on the mainline came to a standstill between 11.50am and 1.15pm after the landslide, derailing services on the line through the day.
To make things worse, a technical failure at Thane on the transharbour line that runs from Thane-Vashi-Panvel affected services on that stretch from 11.05am to 11.35am.
“Slow services between Thane and Diva were suspended from 11.50am to 1.15pm because of the heavy rain and waterlogging at Kalwa.
The services were diverted to the fast corridor and this resulted in 22 full and 32 partial train cancellations,” confirmed AK Singh, CR’s public relations officer.
The Parsik tunnel, built in 1873, is one of Asia’s oldest.
Every monsoon, it reports several leakages and the need for immediate repair comes to light. Slums and other encroachments over it, however, have hampered repair efforts, railway officials and Thane Municipal Corporation authorities claim.
TMC said numerous attempts to clear the area have gone in vain.
Commuters, however, fear this long neglect is a major disaster in waiting.
To ease traffic, the usual Sunday mainline mega block was cancelled.
But harbour line commuters were faced with blocks between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Chunabhatti.
All trains between CST and Panvel were suspended from 11.04am to 3.49pm.
Commuters on a CST-bound local from Dombivli also complained about mud and boulders entering the train, following which the train was stopped near Kalwa for more than half an hour.
“The rains were so heavy and the winds so strong that boulders started flying into our coaches. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But it is high time authorities repair this tunnel. Every year, during the monsoon, we have some problem or the other at Parsik tunnel,” said Kunika Pardesi, a Kalyan resident.