Commuters on Western Railway (WR) had a harrowing time on Tuesday, as an empty coach of a long-distance train derailed near Lower Parel station throwing suburban lifeline out of gear in the first half of the day.
It took over nine hours for the railway machinery to restore the suburban traffic by removing the derailed coach.
The mishap occurred between Lower Parel and Elphinstone Road stations on the north-bound slow tracks around 2.15am when the empty coach was being taken to Lower Parel yard from Elphinstone Road workshop, along with other coaches.
No one was hurt in the mishap but it paralysed suburban traffic during peak hours. Taking serious cognisance, railway minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered a probe, while WR has formed a three-member panel to look into the mishap.
The derailment occurred on the north-bound slow tracks but it was also infringing on the south-bound slow tracks. As a result, WR forced to suspend traffic on both up and down tracks between Churchgate and Dadar stations.
Only fast lines were operational between Dadar and Churchgate. Though WR diverted the slow line services on fast tracks, it adversely affected suburban services during the peak hour because of the delay, diversion and cancellation of trains.
After the train timetable completely collapsed, the crowd on the trains and stations swelled. Commuters said they had a harrowing time while travelling on the suburban trains, as there was a mad rush on the suburban trains, which were running up to an hour late.
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When asked about the delay in removing the coach, WR spokesperson said it was tilted on the retaining wall alongside the track and hence the task of rerailing it became difficult. The situation worsened as it further slipped and capsized during the first effort of rerailing.
A special heavy duty crane from CR was then ordered which lifted the coach from the tracks. With the help of two accident-relief trains, including one from the Central Railway, WR removed the derailed coach from the tracks around 10.30am.
After clearing the tracks and restoring the damaged overhead wires, WR resumed the traffic on slow tracks. According to WR spokesperson, traffic on the up slow line restored around 10.45am, while the down line services resumed at 11.18am.
Commuters, however, complained that trains were running behind schedule for the next few hours.
WR said the derailed coach was not in use and it was taken for scrapping, at the time of mishap.
“The empty coach meant for scrapping was being taken from the workshop to the yard, along with other coaches,” said Ravinder Bhankar, the chief public relations officer of WR.