Commuters on the Central Railway (CR) had another harrowing morning on Wednesday after CR decided to run its Sunday schedule as a precautionary measure in light of the forecast for heavy rainfall.
On Sundays, CR runs around 300 fewer services than other days.
With no apparent sign of rain, several commuters decided to go to work. However, they ended up stuck in crowds on the platforms of major stations like Kalyan, Dombivali, Diva, Thane and Mulund owing to the lower frequency of services.
Looking at the chaos that followed CR decided to revert to the regular time table at noon.
Senior railway officials said that the decision to run the Sunday timetable was taken looking at the forecast by the India Meteorological Department. “There was also a high tide of over 4.5 metres around noon. We didn’t want a situation where hundreds of commuters would be stranded,” a senior CR official said.
Officials also said that several rakes needed some repairs before they could be re-introduced into the system and they wanted to limit the potential long term damage that the system would suffer if rakes were held up due to waterlogging again. The Central Railway operates 1,774 train services on weekdays with a total 121 rakes, 32 of which were held up in the section between Dadar and Thane and needed repairs.
“There were fewer trains than usual and even those that arrived were around 20 minutes late,” Abhimanyu Kumar, a resident of Bhandup said. CR ran six extra locals on the central line and two on the harbour line and provided extra security staff to regulate the crowds at the stations. However, these measures were not enough.
The overcrowding was such that a woman fell on the tracks between Mumbra and Kalwa around 10 a.m. Senior police officials said that the victim, Najmeen Shaikh was travelling on a slow local to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) when she lost her grip. Since the train was not moving fast, Ms. Sheikh sustained minor injuries and was taken to Shivaji Hospital in Kalwa.
In another instance, a lady alleged that she was hit by a stone between Vidyavihar and Ghatkopar. The security staff at Ghatkopar station took her to Rajawadi hospital. “The lady was travelling by the 10.08 a.m. CSMT fast local, which arrived around 10.15 a.m. We had our staff patrolling the area and did not find anyone at that moment, but are still searching for the culprit,” a senior RPF official said. Another lady on the same train complained of breathlessness and fainted on the platform.
Railway activist Lata Argade said the decision to run the Sunday timetable on a weekday was short-sighted. “Railway officials take decisions without understanding the ground realities and how people travel. Will any official be punished for the hardship caused to thousands of commuters today morning,” she said.