Vijay Pawar usually takes two hours to reach his office in Ballard Estate in south Mumbai from Panvel. On Wednesday, after waiting for two hours for a CST train, he finally gave up and returned home.
Like Pawar, several commuters either had to skip work or postpone their appointments after train services on the Central Railway (CR) were disrupted due to a fire in the signal cabins at Kurla and Vidyavihar.
“Only three CST trains have come in the past two hours. And they are so crowded that I can’t even board the first-class compartments,” said Pawar, 42, a senior associate business manager in a pharma company.
While 22-year-old Pooja Gawade, who works as a lab assistant at Hinduja Hospital, managed to board the train, she was stuck for more than three hours. “My train left from Thane at 9am, but I reached Kurla at 12.45pm. I decided to return home, but then I didn’t get a train for nearly an hour,” said the Thane resident. With a majority of the suburban trains cancelled, and the ones running actually moving at snail’s pace, many commuters decided to walk on the tracks to reach their destination.
The scene was equally bad on the harbour line. “Services have been disrupted for the second time this week. On Monday, trains weren’t running due to some problem in Wadala,” said Kishore Phad, 33, a Juinagar resident and civic employee.
Not only trains, those travelling by road also faced a harrowing time. Massive traffic jams were witnessed on the eastern express highway and Sion-Panvel expressway. It took nearly six hours for the vehicles coming from the eastern suburbs and Navi Mumbai to clear up.
Autorickshaw and taxi drivers did not miss this opportunity to fleece commuters. “Auto driver were charging double the fare. They refused to ply by the meter. I ended up paying Rs250 to go to Hiranandani Powai,” said Rohit Sen, 35, a Mulund resident.