Many of us suffer from the Monday blues. However, yesterday brought particular mayhem with it for commuters who use the local trains for their daily commute.
As many as 70 lakh commuters on Western the Railway network, and main and trans-harbour lines of Central Railway, were affected by technical glitches that led to crowded trains and overflowing platforms, late services and plenty of cancellations during the peak hour.
Derailment at Borivli
An empty coach of a Western Railway local was derailed on Sunday night around 1.30 am at Borivli. “Due to this, many services were affected between Kandivli and Borivli and 14 services were cancelled,” said Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway.
Shockingly, there have been nearly eight cases of derailment in the last few months on the suburban section of WR. Thankfully, all the trains were empty and the derailment occurred on crossovers (where a train crisscrosses from one line to the other). There have been two cases of train coaches getting derailed since Saturday. One train got derailed at Churchgate station on January 26, and another at Borivli station on January 28.
Series of mishaps
Apart from this, there have been four derailments inside Kandivli carshed and two at Andheri in the last few months. Sources in the Western Railways said that during all these times, the trains were empty and all trains involved were those procured under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP).
“These trains were being parked from the platforms either on the sidings or to a carshed when it got derailed. Moreover, all these trains were moving at a slow speed (between 15-25 kmph) when they got derailed,” said a WR official.
The derailment of the train at Borivli led to the coach tilting by nearly 45 degrees while it was partly on platform two. It was heading for the siding line near the station where it was to be stationed. The derailment occurred when the train was in the process of crossing over from one track to the other.
“There seems to be some technical glitch in the air suspension. It has been observed that if the coach is empty, it ends in derailment, especially if the tracks too have some problems,” said another WR official.
There seem to be two explanations on offer for the same incident. Some officials claimed that if the tracks aren’t maintained properly, there is every chance of empty trains getting derailed especially while changing lines.
“The Research and Design wing of Indian Railways have tested all possibilities, including any issue with the air suspension installed, before approving these trains under MUTP,” said a senior official. These trains began coming in under MUTP-I since November 2007 and more trains under MUTP-II are expected to come.
According to sources, if the air suspension bursts then there is another spring inside it that will slightly tilt the coach but can run up to a speed of 50 kmph. It will only indicate the motorman about the trouble, who can then dislodge it.
“This has been approved by the Research, Design, and standards Organisation (RDSO) after several tests. So there are chances of tracks not being in tip-top condition for such derailments to occur,” said another rail official.
On the other hand, railway passenger associations fear that these are results of the but lackadaisical approach of railway officials in maintaining the trains. “It is surely lack of thorough maintenance that is leading to such mishaps. Also, they are facing shortage of manpower and insufficient funds until now,” said Kailash Verma, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh. Meanwhile, the derailed train at Borivli was put back on track around 6.30 am using hydraulic jacks. During this period, platforms number 1, 2 and 7 were shut until 7.30 am when platform 7 was opened and platform 1 and 2 were started within an hour.
Delays at Airoli, Diva
Services on the trans-harbour section of Thane-Vashi line were affected due to another technical glitch near Airoli. This time too it was an empty train. Around 4.50 am, the pantograph of this train that left Thane and was proceeding towards Vashi got entangled with the overhead cables, leading to a stoppage.
The railway official reached the spot and began removing the entangled pantograph. “It was an empty train moving towards Vashi,” said AK Jain, senior PRO, Central Railway. During this time, the power supply had to be turned off to correct the issue. The situation was finally brought under control by 7.20 am and services began operating on this section that connects Mumbai particularly the industrial belt with Navi Mumbai.
As if this wasn’t enough, even the Main line of Central Railway got affected after a dumper stopped abruptly, while it was passing the level crossing at Diva station. This incident occurred at 9.50 am and the dumper couldn’t be removed before 10.15 am. During this time, all trains going to Kalyan and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus remained affected. Due to the two incidents, at least 22 train services had to be cancelled on the Thane-Navi Mumbai line and CST-Kalyan line.