It’s become a cliché to talk about Mumbai’s dependence on the suburban railway system and its importance in making the city the country’s commercial capital.
On Wednesday and Thursday, it became even more evident why this is so. Hundreds of thousands of commuters on the Central Line were stranded because of a fire in Kurla which affected the crucial signaling system. This happened just after midnight in the early hours of Wednesday. The Central Railway (CR), however, did not inform passengers (who pay for their tickets) who thus had no idea about what was happening until media reporters reached the spot and told them.
Accidents do happen, but to not inform passengers about it smacks of arrogance.
CR operates 1,575 train services every day, ferrying, on average, close to four million passengers. It is imperative that it informs its customers when something goes wrong. But the sheer callousness and the laziness of the authorities made the lives of lakhs of passengers hell, including that of college and university students who could not reach their exam halls on time.
On Thursday, when everyone expected things to return to normal, three people were killed due to the negligence of Central Railway authorities to weld a metal security device meant to protect a signal.
When you are responsible for the lives of four million people every day, it is important that you take this onerous task with a great degree of diligence and humility. On both counts, CR has been found wanting. It is only a matter of time before something like this takes place on the Western Railway, which ferries close to 3.5 million people every day on its 1,250 train services.
The Railway authorities must wake up now and stem the rot. This city cannot afford to lose any more lives due to their negligence.