Coronavirus Outbreak: Railways suspends maintenance car after commuters try to storm wagon

Updated: Mar 24, 2020, 07:34 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

As regular commuters try to storm the maintenance tower wagon, officials cancel its run till further notice

Many people rushed to the driver's cabin in an emergency tower van at Titwala station to show their ID cards as essential workers
Many people rushed to the driver's cabin in an emergency tower van at Titwala station to show their ID cards as essential workers

The decision to cancel trains for commuters expectedly affected thousands, some of whom still tried to get to work. As a large number of such people flocked to the maintenance tower rail wagons that were ferrying railway staff on internal maintenance duty at various stations, the Central Railway on Monday said they were suspending the movement of these trains too.

"When the emergency tower van came to Titwala station at morning, a number of commuters rushed to the station and tried to board it. A number of others simply crowded to take selfies and many rushed to the driver's cabin that was guarded by a policeman to show their ID cards as essential workers," an eyewitness said.

The Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council has taken up the cleaning of Badlapur station
The Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council has taken up the cleaning of Badlapur station

At Kalyan, the tower wagon was filled with commuters as in any local train, putting all attempts of social distancing at bay. The railways then, withdrew the trains. "We appeal to people to support us in maintaining a safe distance. We have stopped such emergency vehicle depot movements," Central Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Shivaji Sutar said.

Commuters flock to stations
Commuters crowded stations in the morning on Monday and were seen pleading with cops to allow them to enter the premises, but went back eventually after realising no trains were running. "There was crowding outside stations and many started arguing that they worked with essential services and should be allowed to travel, but they went away eventually as they realised that trains are not functional," an official said.

The commuter on the last train from Patna was sent to an airport facility for such passengers. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The commuter on the last train from Patna was sent to an airport facility for such passengers. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Stations being cleaned
The Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council said they had taken up the cleaning of Badlapur station with a lot of water and sanitisers as a preventive measure against the spread of Coronavirus.

"The station is used by about 1.5 lakh commuters every day and it is important to additionally clean up the place even after the railways have done it. This will help prevent the spread of the epidemic," Waman Mhatre, president of Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council said. Another high footfall station, Karjat, was also cleaned with jet sprays, water and floor sanitisers by the town's fire brigade department, whose personnel said they will continue doing this as and when required till the epidemic goes away. Fire brigades and local councils took over the cleaning of many small stations.

Last train from Patna
The last train from Patna that reached LTT on Monday morning had a passenger onboard who wanted to reach Mauritius and had a flight to catch at the Mumbai airport. "We checked up his passport etc and everything was in place. We then tried to look for a hotel around the LTT, but since that wasn't possible, we called airport numbers," an official said. The police have sent him to the airport facility where such flyers have been waiting.

Passengers and refunds
WR said that 6.17 lakh passengers had cancelled their tickets in Mumbai division, leading to refunds of R39.88 crore between March 1 and 22. On the last day the suburban services ran on Sunday, there were 9,967 passengers on local trains as compared to 30.9 lakh on March 1.

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