Central Railway fails in hi-speed Mumbai-Pune trials
Reverts to old time-table; schedule drawn up for Mumbai-Pune Intercity Express skipped Karjat, upsetting locals who could not take the train for one week
The Central Railway's dream of considerably cutting down travel time on the Mumbai-Pune route has been cut short as the seventh and last trial still saw the superfast Intercity Express reach both Pune and Mumbai behind schedule. The Central Railway on Thursday thus announced that it would revert to the old schedule that takes the train 3 hours and 17 minutes on the route, ending the seven-day trial.
The trails failed despite monitoring by both Mumbai and Pune divisions with passenger associations from Karjat writing to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, local MLAs and state ministers over the inconvenience of skipping the Karjat halt. It led to problems for hundreds of office-goers and students, who take this train, they said.
However, there is still confusion among the commuters as public announcements at Mumbai CSMT said that the trials of the train were over and that the old timetable will be followed, Pune divisional manager said the trials will continue till June 11. As of Thursday night though, two sets of crew were booked for Friday morning's Intercity Express which indicated it being a push-pull one, not needing a halt for engine change at Karjat.
The trials were forced on Central Railway by outgoing General Manager Devendra K Sharma despite divisional officials telling him that it was an impractical move. Sharma had said it was his dream and forced it on the railways, not only drawing protests from commuters across Mumbai and Pune divisions but also leading to failure of trials on all seven days despite monitoring of top officials of Mumbai and Pune divisions.
On the seventh consecutive trial day on Thursday, the train reached Pune over 20 minutes behind schedule. "It was a stupid dream by Central Railway. They were depriving passengers of their right. Earlier, passengers could take the Indrayani Express, but since that was extended to Solapur, office-goers and students heavily depend on the Intercity at Karjat station. It used to halt to add additional engines there. With that gone, passengers are left without an option," Zonal Railway Users' Consultative Committee member Nitin S Parmar said.
"I have written a letter to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and asked him to stop this madness by Central Railway," Parmar told mid-day. The Central Railway was experimenting to cut down the journey time between Mumbai and Pune to a record 2 hours 35 minutes and was conducting speed trials for seven days beginning May 31, by attaching two locomotives, one in the front and other at the rear. In the process, the train skipped the technical halt at Karjat which led to this unrest.
'CR unaware of ground realities'
With no stop at Karjat, the train saved on time but led to other problems. The Lonavala-Pune local is sidelined and detained at Chinchwad for the Intercity Express to maintain its new time, inconveniencing morning passengers of that train. Prabhakar Gangawane, secretary of Karjat Railway Passengers' Association met Karjat Guardian Minister Ravindra Chavan at his bungalow on Tuesday and gave a formal letter to him, saying it was causing trouble to hundreds of passengers from smaller stations all the way till Dombivli who gathered at Karjat to take this train. "The train is a habit and it has been so for several years. The railways are playing with the office timings of several commuters and should seriously think of better options. Those sitting at Mumbai CSMT and planning all this are not aware of the ground realities," he said.
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