For over two lakh suburban commuters on the Thane-Vashi-Panvel section travelling by local trains continue to be a nightmare. The Central Railway (CR) has still not completed the maintenance work on a 12-coach train, which was taken off service in some two months ago.
The CR has reduced three 12-coach trains to nine-coach ones to compensate for this train. Since each train on this section makes 15-17 services, for commuters it amounts to a reduction of in capacity by 33% in around 50 services. This leads to overcrowding in trains, making travel not just inconvenient but even unsafe.
The CR had sent the train for periodic overhaul (PoH) in mid-September at the Matunga workshop. It takes about 20 days to a month to complete the POH of one train. But in this case even two months later, the rake has not resumed in services. All trains undergo POH once in 18months, which includes maintenance of wheels, coaches, seats and electric equipment.
Earlier, the CR used to operate 210 services daily on the transharbour line. Ten 12-coach used to run on this section, but now just seven 12-coach ones are being operated.
Commuter activist say instead of reducing the train capacity, the authorities should have made alternate provisions such as inducting a spare train and then withdrawing the train for maintenance. “The frequency of trains on transharbour line is already poor. After the train was sent for maintenance and capacity of three others reduced, the situation has worsened. The passengers are suffering miserably,” said Suniti Raut, a Thane resident.
The sudden change in coach arrangement has led to confusion among commuters waiting for the train on platform. Activists say this even jeopardises passengers’ safety. “The announcement of a nine-car train is made seconds before the train arrives. It is very difficult for commuters, especially for the women, to run back and board a train. This creates unnecessary commotion on the platform as the train arrives,” said Jitendra Vishe, a commuter activist.
When contacted, on Saturday, Narendra Patil, chief public relation officer (CPRO), CR, refused to comment on the issue. “We will check the status of the coach availability from the engineering department on Monday. We can give an update on this only after that,” said Patil.