For the more than 75 lakh Mumbaikars who use local trains for their daily commute, the intervening night of June 6 and June 7 will be a momentous one. The journey of the 1,500-volt DC system, which has been powering trains since 1925, will end on Central Railway and a 25,000-volt AC system will take its place.
The city will, in all likelihood, however, remember the event not for its historic significance but for the chaos that is likely to follow it. This paper had reported yesterday that CR officials feared the cancellation of 40 services an hour from Sunday, something that would have crippled the network and given rise to severe problems for commuters.
And, while the forecast had improved marginally by last night, chaos is still on the anvil. For at least a week beginning tomorrow, delays and cancellations are expected to plague the CR network, leaving hapless commuters no option but to travel in trains that will be even more packed than usual.
Where’s the planning?
What is surprising is that even though work on the multi-crore power upgradation has been on for more than two years and the impending problems could have been avoided, nobody seems to have thought of them until the last minute.
While all this was going on, the common people the ones who actually depend on the local trains were kept out of the loop. There were no announcements at railway stations and no advertisements in newspapers and TV channels right until the last moment, despite railway authorities knowing that the weekend sees entire families travelling on the suburban railway network.
The only thing commuters can hope for now is that the switch to the AC system goes off without a hitch and the delays and cancellations of services that are expected to follow, because of the speed limits, are kept to a minimum.