CR power block hassles commuters
A five-hour power block between Dombivli and Kalyan stations from 9.45am to 1.45pm on Wednesday acted as a dampener in Christmas celebrations of Central Railway (CR) commuters, forcing them to grapple with crowd, delay, traffic snarls and fleecing by autorickshaw drivers.
The power block on the fifth and sixth lines was to launch four girders for a new foot overbridge at Thakurli station. The stopping of local train services between the stations for four hours impacted the long-distance and services from other stations too, leaving CR stations overcrowded during morning peak hours. “I waited for more than half-an-hour to get a Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-bound train. But with all services shut, I had to cancel by Christmas celebration plan,” said Nishant Kadam, 27, from Dombivli. “I came in a bus from Airoli to Kalyan. I had to go to Ulhasnagar, but the trains were running very late. When I asked autorickshaw drivers, they started to ask for ₹400 for a distance for which I usually pay ₹25-30,” said Smita Deshmukh, 33, a local commuter from Airoli.
Trains towards Karjat and Kasara were running from Kalyan, but the frequency remained poor.
Stranded, several commuters were seen sitting on the platform at Kalyan and Dombivli or having meals on the railway bridge. “Trains were running at a gap of 25 to 30 minutes in the morning. The frequency on both up and down lines got better after 12pm,” informed a railway official.
The block added to the crowd at Thane station too. “Commuters traveling to Navi Mumbai and Mumbai travel by bus to Thane. The block hit the frequency of trains from the station, adding to the chaos on CR,” said an official.
While commuters complained that railway counters were not issuing tickets, the railway official said no such instructions were given to the station administration.
“Although the local services were stopped, there was no order not to issue tickets,” said another official from CR.
Agra road and Rambaug that lead to the Kalyan station road, too, saw major traffic jams.
With many opting for private vehicles, major traffic snarls were reported on all major roads in Kalyan and Dombivli. “Vehicles were stuck in a long queue on the Patripool bridge connecting Kalyan and Dombivli. The bridge already sees major traffic snarls daily. I have been waiting for at least 40 minutes,” said Sanket Shinde, 24, from Kalyan, who was traveling to Dombivli.
The Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Transport (KDMT) announced special services for commuters.
“A total of 20 buses were plied on the Kalyan-Dombivli route from 9.30am to 1.30pm on Wednesday. During each trip, we plied at least 80 passengers. We made an additional 96 trips,” said Maruti Khodke, transport manager, KDMT.
Sixteen outstation trains were cancelled, eleven diverted and nine rescheduled. Trains, including Sahyadri, Sinhagad, Deccan, Panchavati, Godavari express, were suspended while others such as Nagercoil Express, Hyderabad Express were diverted via the Diva-Panvel-Karjat route. Train schedule on the Pune, Nashik track was disrupted completely, as a result of which many commuters had to travel by bus.
The crowds receded only after 12pm, when the services started running slowly.
“The work started at 9.45am and was completed in scheduled time, in the presence of 115 employees, including engineers, one 400-tonne crane and other equipment,” said a senior official from CR. “The block on the upside of was over by 3.05 pm, while the block on the down side was lifted by 1.07 pm,” said a railway official.
Lata Argade, secretary, Suburban Railway Passengers Association, criticised CR administration for scheduling a block on Christmas. “They should have checked with passengers’ association before scheduling such an activity on a holiday. They need to clarify on the refund of ticket charges of cancelled trains,” she said.
Came for fest, stranded for hrs
“We were travelling on Sultanpur-LTT (Lokmanya Tilak Terminus) express. After reaching Khadavli, we were told that the train will not move ahead for a few hours. After waiting for an hour, we decided to take a local train from Khadavli station (on Central line). Once we reached Kalyan, the train stopped there, leaving us stuck for two hours,” said Nitesh Sharma, 20, from Bhopal, an IIT student who had come with his batch mates to attend for IIT-Bombay’s Mood Indigo festival.
No tickets were issued by Rlys?
Many who wanted to travel towards CSMT complained that the officials at railway counters at Kalyan station were not issuing tickets during the block hours. “I was waiting at the station for an hour. At the ticket counter, I was told that no tickets will be issued during the block period,” said Neelam Ardasani, 48, from Kalyan, who wanted to travel to Thane. “With no tickets, we had to wait at the platform in a queue for hours,” said Shweta Ghugre, 30, from Kalyan, who was waiting at Kalyan station for a CSMT local to go to Thane.
Inputs from Shrinivas Deshpande