Brimming local trains during peak hours are a common sight in Mumbai. Space is at a premium and travelling on footboards and rooftops is considered matter of course. The last few days, however, have been trying for even the most seasoned commuters, particularly on Central Railway (CR), though the cascading effect hasn’t left the Western line untouched either. Since 1 am on Wednesday, when a major fire gutted the main signal cabin at Kurla station, services on CR have taken a massive hit. And now bodies have started showing up at railway authorities’ doorstep. Three people were killed and at least 20 were injured yesterday morning after a mishap occurred on a CST-bound Badlapur local near Mulund station.
The train, scheduled to reach platform no 4 of Mulund station at 8:49 am, arrived at 9:10 am, packed to capacity. Still, passengers who had been waiting impatiently at Mulund pushed and shoved in a desperate attempt to board. Many of them had to be content with managing to grab some space on the footboard and hang on for dear life. As the train started to pick up speed, passengers allege they were hit by an electrical box on a signal pole erected in close proximity to the tracks.
Most of the passengers, who had their upper bodies hanging outwards, were struck on their left; many of them fell off the train due to the impact. The percussion proved fatal for Pratik Chheda (30), Ganesh Yadav (23) and Jiten Vara (25). Chandramani Tiwari, an air-conditioning technician working for the railways, was one of the commuters injured in the incident, sustaining a fracture to his left elbow.
“The train was very crowded in the morning, and a lot of people were hanging from the footboard due to lack of space,” he narrated, adding, “I was travelling in the bogie after the first ladies compartment. As the train left Mulund at around 9 am, it accelerated. While I was trying to push myself inwards and away from the footboard, I was suddenly struck on the left arm.” Sachin Shetty, a banker, was travelling to CST to attend an important meeting. He narrowly escaped with his life. He said, “I had already missed work the previous day due to the unavailability of trains but I had a meeting on Thursday. Just after boarding the train at Mulund, I felt an object strike me a severe blow, and I was about to fall off the train. Luckily, I was travelling with a friend, who, with the aid of another passenger, immediately pulled me back in. He saved my life.”
Rakesh Yadav, Sachin’s friend said, “After seeing Sachin bleeding, I realised he was wounded, and pulled him inside the compartment. We reached Vikhroli station, where I, along with four other people who had been injured, lodged a complaint with the station master, and advised him to discontinue services along that line, as other trains could also have been at risk.”
Sachin recounted the horrors he faced at Vikhroli station. “At Vikhroli, we received first aid, and were told that an ambulance had been sent for, from Rajawadi Hospital. We waited for what seemed like 20 minutes, to no avail. Finally, when the pain became unbearable, we decided to arrange for our own transport, and went to Rajawadi by rickshaw,” he said. But his ordeal did not end there. “Even as we reached Rajawadi, we were told that the X-ray machines were not functioning, and we would have to get them done from outside. I was in excruciating pain, and had not been given a temporary plaster, or even painkillers. After getting my X-rays done we came back to Rajawadi, where preliminary treatment was finally administered to me.” Sachin had suffered a compound fracture to his right arm, and decided to seek further medical assistance at a private hospital.
Another duo, Rahul Singh (26) and Narendra Balkhande (24), co-workers, faced similar circumstances when the former was hit by the signal pole. Despite travelling in the last bogie of the train, they did not notice anything happening in the compartments ahead. Rahul said, “It all happened so fast, that I cannot recount the details of what happened. I was in shock after getting hit.” Narendra said, “Rahul and I were on the footboard, with our left arms out of the train, gripping the top. I saw the pole approaching, but since it was a fast train, there was no time to react. As Rahul was hit first, he lost balance, and started to fall. I immediately grabbed onto him and pulled him back inside.”
Like others, Rahul too sustained a fracture to the left arm, while Narendra suffered a small cut.Also among the injured was a Western Railway TC, 35-year-old Shailesh Kamble. Kamble too, was travelling on the footboard of the Badlapur-CST train, and was admitted to Parakh Hospital in Ghatkopar. A relative of Kamble said, “Shailesh was travelling as a civilian, on his way to Dadar. He performs his duties at Vile Parle station, and was on the way to work when the incident took place. He has been injured on the left elbow, and will have to undergo surgery tomorrow at Parakh Hospital in Ghatkopar where he has been admitted.”
More blood on the tracks
At around 6.45 pm, Hussain Shaikh, who was standing on top of a Bhayandar local, got electrocuted as the train entered platform 4 at Bandra station. Power was briefly shut down in order to remove him from the overhead cables that supply 25,000 volts current. Shaikh was admitted to Bhabha Hospital with 80 per cent burn injuries. A 21-year-old hawker came under the wheels of a suburban train, as the train snaked its way to platform 1 at CST station yesterday. Mukesh Kale who was trying to latch on to the door of the moving train, while trying to board a compartment at around 7.30 pm, missed it, and fell in the gap between two coaches and on to the tracks. He was run over by the train. “He was taken to St George Hospital, but succumbed to his injuries,” said S Deshmukh, senior police inspector (GRP), CST. He used to sell wares at Gateway of India and used to stay in the slums nearby.