Fewer trains on Mumbai’s Central Railway hassle commuters
After a day of mayhem and staying indoors, Mumbaiites stepped out for work on Wednesday, only to be greeted with more chaos, as the central railway (CR) ran fewer trains, following its Sunday schedule, instead of the regular one on account of the weather bureau’s forecast of heavy rain.
The main line of CR operates 856 trains on week days, compared to 646 on Sunday or a public holiday. Operating at an interval of 40-45 minutes, trains were overcrowded, with stampede-like situation on platforms and foot overbridges at several stations.
Nazeem Ibrahim Sheikh, 36, who was travelling on the footboard of an overcrowded train, fell off between Mumbra and Kalwa. “She suffered injuries to her back and leg, with scratches on her head. Her condition is stable now,” said Nasir Sheikh, her brother.
At Thane, two women passengers complained of uneasiness in overcrowded compartments. They were discharged after primary medical treatment. An incident of stone pelting was also reported near Ghatkopar railway station, which left one commuter injured. “The victim suffered minor injuries and was rushed to the hospital. He left without registering a case,” said MA Inamdar, senior inspector of Kurla GRP.
As the number of commuters kept swelling at Dadar, Thane, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Diva, Dombivli, Kalyan and Mulund, the CR had to deploy personnel from the Railway Protection Force and Government Railway police to control the crowd and prevent untoward incidents. “I reached Dombivli around 8.30am and the platforms were packed with people. Many had to stand on foot overbridge as there was no space on the platform. I was able to board a CSMT local after 30 minutes,” said Vishwas Natu, 44, who was travelling to Dadar. Shweta Bhoir, 24, who was stuck at Kalyan, said, “My train was delayed by 25 minutes.” “Action should be taken against officials for operating fewer trains,” said Lata Argade, vice-president, Railway Pravasi Sangh.
Flak from all quarters ensured the CR operated special trains during morning peak hours and suspended the Sunday timetable by afternoon. “The decision to run suburban services on holiday/Sunday schedule was a conscious decision in view of the weather forecast by IMD which predicted heavy rain for the day with a high tide of 4.69m. This amplitude of high tide and heavy rainfall, as per past experiences, results in severe waterlogging. Further on Tuesday, at least 24 trains were stranded in the section where water levels were in excess of 8 inches, which is the maximum permissible level. Even though Sunday timetable was introduced, the moment it was realised that the rain had relented, a few more trains were put in service after safety check. Eight special trains were operated,” said Sunil Udasi, chief public relation officer, CR.
Some railway officials, however, claimed the number of services was curtailed, as they had to send some trains that were stuck in floodwater for maintenance on Tuesday. At least 11 motor coaches of trains needed to be looked at because of which it was not possible to run all suburban services, they said.
Senior CR officials reportedly faced rap from the Railway Board, apex body of all zonal railways for the delayed operations. “One local train requires four motor coaches for operating on the railway tracks. Water had entered in two motor coaches of many local trains. The rectification work was completed, but a few trains required detailed work,” said a senior official.