The fire gutted a signal cabin at Kurla station, affecting the electric and signal cabling network. The fire was brought under control a few hours later and there were no casualties.
Consequently, suburban and long distance trains were hit severely since early morning. At least four incoming and outgoing outstation trains were cancelled, the official said.
With indefinite delay in long-distance trains, holiday plans of thousands of people went haywire, leading to frayed temperatures at CST, Dadar, Kurla, Thane, and other important stations.
Train indicators on platforms also blanked out, leaving commuters in complete dark about the train schedules. Students appearing for BBM, TYBA, MA and MCom examinations were badly affected.
The Mumbai University has asked examination centres to admit students who reach late.
Over four million people use the Central Railway suburban network.
Spelling further concern for the commuters, the official said repairs in the signal cabin and other works could take at least two-three days before the situation returns to normal.
Meanwhile, Central Railway has permitted season ticket holders to travel unhindered on either the local or long-distance or harbour line routes as a temporary measure, while the state government and BEST have been requested to deploy additional buses to clear the commuter and tourist rush.
(With inputs from a MiD DAY reporter)