No lunchbox for Mumbaikars, derailment hits Dabbawala service

The derailment that hit the suburban local train service, the metropolis's lifeline, not only caused massive inconvenience to passengers on Tuesday but also threw the famed Dabbawalas' operations out of gear.

Widely lauded for their slick system for reaching meals to thousands of office-goers, the dabbawalas on Wednesday failed to deliver tiffins as they could not collect them back from offices due to the stoppage of the suburban local train service on Western Railway (WR)'s network.

Mumbai's iconic Dabbawala
A Mumbai Dabbawala

Seven coaches of a Churchgate-bound fast local train came off the tracks on the WR line on Tuesday, leading to the blocking up of three lines between Andheri and Vile Parle. 

The disruption caused a great deal of inconvenience to commuters as services came to a grinding halt for hours. Dabbawalas, or Mumbai's iconic lunch-box carriers, could today reach only 40 per cent of their tiffin deliveries to Mumbaikars as they could not collect them back from offices in the evening yesterday due to the disruption.

"We could not get the tiffins back yesterday evening after rail services were hit for the entire day. Hence, we are unable to make almost 60 per cent of the deliveries today," said president of Dabbawala Association, Raghunath Mendge. 

There are nearly 5,000 dabbawalas in groups of 100 who deliver over two lakh lunch boxes from Churchgate to Virar, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Kalyan and from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai.

Mendge said, "Today we are able to deliver only 40 per cent tiffins in schools and colleges where our men go on bicycles or other means outside of local trains." 

He added that the dabbawalas will resume their full services on Saturday as tomorrow is a holiday on account of Ganesh Chaturthi. 

Asked if they had received any complaints from customers, Mendge replied in the negative, saying, "Our customers are aware about the disruption in local train services. Hence, they have not shown any displeasure."

The city's century-old dabbawalas, who have received a 'Six Sigma' quality certificate, are known for their unique management of delivering lunch boxes that has won them several global accolades.

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