August 13, 2016 1:15:56 am
Suburban rail commuters had a harrowing time on Friday with Central Railway services being disrupted in the morning by commuters protesting delay in services and Western Railway coming to a grinding halt in the evening due to a technical snag.
Trouble began early Friday morning after a 5.05 am local train to CST arrived almost 30 minutes late at Badlapur station. Miffed passengers subsequently got on to the tracks and started a protest rally.
Central Railway authorities claimed that the delay was caused due to a technical snag between Karjat and Bhivpuri Road stations. Commuters, however, claimed that services to Badlapur have been poor for quite a long time now and said that they would protest unless their demands for improved services were met.
The Karjat-CST local was delayed due to a technical snag near Level Crossing Gate no 26 between Karjat and Bhivpuri Road and arrived at Badlapur 20 minutes behind schedule. Passengers at Badlapur started their agitation from 5.25 am. Around 5.55 am, the Thane-Karjat local was also stopped by protesters,” said a Central Railway official.
The protesters squatted on the tracks for close to five hours leading to 46 train services being cancelled. Hence, the Central Railway schedule was thrown out of gear.
Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu took to Twitter to request commuters to stop protesting. “GM DRM, officers directed early morning to help passengers in #Badlapur, sort out their problems. Requesting all not to agitate, all steps taken,” Prabhu tweeted.
Officials said that 30 special trains were run between Ambernath and CST/Kalyan, Vangani-Karjat, Karjat-Khopoli during the period. Services between Ambernath and Karjat restored at 10.55 am.
Many long-distance trains were also rescheduled owing to the disruption. Expressing disappointment, Raj Bhavsar, a commuter, said: “I was coming from Pune to Mumbai. My train, Deccan Queen, was made to halt at Karjat station at 10 am. From there, it was diverted to Panvel, then Diva and finally reached Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), almost two hours late. Commuters were seen walking on tracks between Badlapur and Karjat. It was chaotic.”
Officials from Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) were sent to Badlapur station early in the morning. “Almost 100-150 GRP and RPF officials were sent to Badlapur to bring the situation under control. Commuters were walking on tracks to stop train services . After almost five hours, agitated commuters gave in and services resumed,” Sachin Bhalode, Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Central Railway.
The Divisional Railway Manager will hold a meeting with a delegation of Badlapur commuters next week so that the problem can be discussed properly. Later in the evening, services on both up and down lines of the Western Railways were affected owing to a technical failure. While many commuters were stranded on platforms, others were seen walking on tracks. “Services are affected as the overhead equipment was not holding power on up-slow and down-fast lines between Marine Lines and Charni Raod from 5.45 pm,” said a Western Railways official. Approximately 60 Western Railways train services had to be cancelled during the evening rush hour.
Not only were trains overcrowded, Churchgate station also saw a huge rush. “I have to reach Virar station. At least the rest are using other modes of transport but I have to depend on trains to reach home,” said Akash Bilani, a commuter.
While the technical problem was solved by 6.30 pm in the evening, services continued to remain late for the later hours of the day. Amid all these disruptions throughout the day, the Railway Board on Friday decided to transfer Amitabh Ojha, the Divisional Railway Manager, Central Railway. Confirming the news, officials said he was supposed to be transferred after three to four months, not so soon.
Elaborating on the issue, Narendra Patil, chief public relations officer, Central Railways, said: “The Divisional Railway Manager’s transfer was supposed to happen three-four months down the line. Doing it early was completely the decision of the Railway Board in Delhi.”
Ravinder Goyal, Divisional Railway Manager, Bilaspur, is likely to take over as the Divisional Railway Manager, Central Railways.
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