Thousands of peak hour commuters heading towards Noida and Vaishali were inconvenienced on Wednesday evening when the Delhi Metro’s Blue Line service was sent into a tizzy for more than an hour due to a fault in an overhead electrification wire.
Crowds swelled at the Rajiv Chowk metro station, one of the busiest interchange stations in the entire network that links Dwarka in the western periphery of the Capital with Noida and Vaishali in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
Commuters waited for trains that were delayed and could not enter over-packed trains that were stranded on the platforms. “The announcements were sporadic and inaudible, so many commuters were hanging around without knowing what the problem was or when services would be resumed,” said Shailaja, a commuter, who eventually gave up the wait to hunt for an auto-rickshaw to take her home to Vaishali.
Another commuter, Megha, who was travelling from Lajpat Nagar to Kaushambi in Ghaziabad, was stranded at the Rajiv Chowk station for an entire hour, the time it took for the Delhi Metro to fix the fault and resume services.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation immediately pressed into service trains on a short loop between Barakhamba and Dwarka and between Yamuna Bank and Noida/Vaishali after an overhead electrification wire was damaged near the Indraprastha metro station. Three metro stations – Mandi House, Pragati Maidan and Indraprastha – were shut down.
“The overhead wire got entangled with the pentogram (antenna) of the train when it was about 150 metres away from the Indraprastha station heading towards Dwarka. We had to evacuate the passengers, switch off the power to the train and send a team from the Yamuna Bank depot to rectify the problem,” said a DMRC spokesperson. As a consequence, no services were available between Yamuna Bank and Barakhama from 6-40 p.m. till normalcy was restored by 7-35 p.m.
Many commuters who were stranded said the snag developed around 6 p.m., which is peak rush hour, and resulted in overflowing at many stations.
The spill-over effect could be seen at stations as far as Noida Sector 18. Those who were forced to abandon the wait and opt for auto-rickshaws and taxis instead were fleeced.
“I waited for over an hour (for the service to resume), and then decided to take the auto-rickshaw home. But all of them were occupied and the rest were demanding double the normal fare,” said Ankita Kapoor, a 19-year-old student who was stuck at the Noida Sector 18 station.