It was a miserable day for the city’s commuters, whether they were travelling by train or by road.
After Friday morning saw a massive traffic snarl on the Eastern Express Highway because of the accident at the Eastern Freeway site in Wadala late on Thursday, the chaos shifted to the Western Express Highway in the evening, after 200 Western Railway motormen went on a flash strike between 3pm and 7.30pm, holding more than 34 lakh commuters ransom during evening peak hours.
A furious crowd at Churchgate station ransacked railway property, damaged police barricades and metal detectors before attacking the motormen’s office on the second floor of the station.
People returning to their homes in the western suburbs had no choice but to travel by road. With the state deploying 252 additional buses, and every cab, auto and car out on the streets, the Western Express Highway had bumper-to-bumper traffic till late at night.
The traffic police sent out text messages and made announcements on radio stations about diversions as General AK Vaidya Marg, also known as Wadala Road, was closed, but it did little to reduce the traffic jam, which eased only by the end of the day.
For commuters, it was a struggle. After giving up on trains, Vanita Amin, 36, said she could not get an auto at Santacruz.
“Auto and taxi drivers were refusing to ply and buses were overflowing. I had to walk for 45 minutes before I found an auto driver who agreed to drop me home, but I had to pay him much more,” she said.
“I left my office in Dadar to get to my residence in Andheri at 6.30pm. It took my three hours. The traffic on the highway was moving inch by inch,” said Kavya Iyer, 24, a media professional.
Commuters also complained that in the afternoon, services were delayed on the Central Railway main line, though authorities denied there was trouble.
“The trains towards CST were arriving almost 30 minutes late at Kurla station, but no announcements were being made,” said Jyoti Rajgor, 45, a resident of Badlapur.