Central Railway services were delayed once again on Tuesday, the fifth time in a week. Four of these delays were the result of technical failures while three of them disrupted peak hour traffic.
When HT contacted CR officials to know the reason for such frequent disruptions, they blamed it all on the overburdened system. A few others claimed snags were because of irregularities in maintenance work.
Traveling on this line during peak hours is a time-consuming affair for commuters. Sunil Bhalchandra, a Kalyan resident and employee of an international bank located at Fort, said, "CR services have become non-reliable. I have missed my office meeting twice in the last one month, thanks to these frequent disruptions."
Another harried commuter, Meena Mehta, who was traveling on the train on the day when the pantograph got entangled with the OHE system, said, "The trains were running late and even the indicators had stopped working. We were stranded for hours."
Some senior railway officials believe that CR needs to go slow on increasing services on this line, which is only adding pressure on its existing infrastructure, and instead focus on maintenance.
CR has increased number of services, from 1,410 in 2008-09 to 1,573 at present. A senior railway official said, "The numbers of services have increased by 11.5% over the last two years, whereas there has been no improvement in the base infrastructure and manpower. Such technical issues are bound to happen."
However, officers are hopeful that the situation will improve once CR completes DC to AC conversion between Kalyan and CST, expected to be complete by July 2012. "The project will reduce OHE failure," said a CR official.
The introduction of new Siemen's trains will also reduce instances of rail fractures. "The new rakes have air springs near the wheels, which doesn't allow excessive pressure to be passed on to the tracks and trains run smoothly," said a railway official.
AK Singh, PRO, said, "We will undertake a maintenance drive to check our signaling and OHE system. We have started carrying out track monitoring exercises on the Harbour line."