Train services on Central Railway went for a toss yesterday after a hoarding featuring Dr BR Ambedkar and local politicians was pulled down near Diva railway station because it was blocking motormen’s view of the tracks. Although the step was taken strictly because of operational reasons, the locals got offended. The reaction was total disruption of local services passing Diva railway station for nearly 45 minutes.
“The problem began at around 10.05 am and went on till 10.45 am,” said a CR official. Sources said that this hoarding was placed near a level crossing at a bend on the route. “The hoarding was obstructing the view of motormen steering the local trains. Many people use this level crossing and this creates issues for the motormen and drivers who are caught unawares,” said a CR official.
After the Railway Protection Force (RPF) moved to bring the hoarding down, locals erupted in a protest, gathering at the station, crowding the platforms blocking the tracks and halting trains. Many slow trains heading towards Dombivli and CST were stopped abruptly.
The drama went on for three-quarters of an hour. A total of 10 services were cancelled, leaving commuters out on a limb, especially during the peak hours. Meanwhile, a group of railway officials who were returning from a derailment site arrived at Diva to sort the issue.
“They were returning from a nearby yard where a goods train had derailed,” said another rail official, claiming that the situation would have escalated had they not intervened. After the situation was explained to the locals, they were asked to clear the tracks and train services resumed.
Officials added that 11 people were arrested under various sections of the Railways Act for obstructing train services. “The hoarding erected at the level-crossing gate was obstructing motormen’s visibility. So for safety reasons it was removed by the RPF staff,” said Atul Rane, chief public relations officer, Central Railway.