Commuters on the Harbour line faced a tough time on Saturday morning after services were delayed by more than 75 minutes.
Six trains were cancelled after more than 200 people protested against the Central Railway (CR) for running 30% fewer trains on Saturday as it was a public holiday. They blocked trains services in Chembur.
The problem began when an announcement was made that the 9.10am Chembur-Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) train had been cancelled.
This angered the commuters because this is the only train from Chembur taken by those who want to avoid the crowded trains departing from Panvel.
The crowd got on the tracks demanding that the authorities run the scheduled train. “Initially I thought people were crossing tracks, only to realise that they were agitating,” said Surjit Singh, a commuter at Chembur station who was heading towards Vashi.
When an 8.54am CST-Panvel local pulled into Chembur station, protestors stood into front of it, refusing to let it ply.
Railway officials called the government railway police (GRP) and the office of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asking for back-up to manage the crowd.
Later the CST-Panvel train was cancelled after authorities found a minor rail fracture —cracks on the track that can cause derailment — at Mankhurd. This led to more discontent among the protesting commuters.
The situation was brought under control after an Andheri-Panvel train pulled into platform number 4.
“We decided to run the CST-Panvel train. In order to pacify the agitating commuters, we decided to cancel the Andheri-Panvel train and convert it into a Chembur-CST train,” said a senior CR official on condition of anonymity.
The passengers inside the Andheri-Panvel train were asked to get off at Chembur station and board the CST-Panvel train, while the crowd, which had stalled train, were asked to take the Andheri-Panvel train, route had been altered to Chembur-CST. “The situation was resolved around 10.30am,” said AK Singh, PRO, CR.
On Sundays and on public holidays, the CR runs 1,249 services, of which 30% are run on the Harbour line and the Thane-Panvel Trans-Harbour route. On regular days, the CR runs 1,573 services.
The CR has registered a case against the unidentified protesters for detaining a train.