Heavy rains could halt Mumbai's trains

Jun 09, 2013, 05:02 IST | Shashank Rao

BMC officers tell railway officials that if it rains more than 65 mm on days when a high tide of over 4.5 metres is expected, it could flood tracks and cause major problems for the city's rail transportation system

Mumbaiites need to be particularly wary about 18 days between June and September during the monsoon this year, when heavy rains coupled with high tides could cause trouble along the coast. These are the days when the waves hitting the shores would be over 4.5 metres and if it rains more than 65 mm then it could bring the city to a halt.

Mumbaiites could expect heavy rains for 18 days between June and September. File Photo

Prepare for flooded roads and all local trains coming to a halt, if that happens this time.

At a recent meeting between the railways and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the latter cautioned the railway authorities about the possibility of train tracks being flooded. “If it rains more than 65mm and at the same time the tides surge over 4.5 meters then it could be difficult for us to operate train services,” said a senior railway official.

There are six days in June, five days in July, four days in August and three days in September when the tide levels may cross 4.5 metres. In June, there are chances that the tides would reach a height of 4.97 meters on June 25, which is not only dangerous for those living near the sea, but could lead to severe water logging in some low-lying areas.

“If it pours heavily on June 25 during the stipulated time of the high tide at 1.45 pm, then there could be severe problems,” said a BMC official. Sources said that the drains crisscrossing the railway tracks on both Central and Western Railway lines can manage anywhere around 25-30mm of rains but beyond that tracks will
get flooded.

Similarly July 24, August 22 and September 19 will also see very high tides. BMC officials claim that the sewer drains in Mumbai can take up showers to the tune of 50mm but beyond that the water will overflow causing water logging on roads.

“It is preferred to avoid travelling, stepping out of your house during the last week of June and July, as it is predicted that the tidal levels will be at their peak. And if it rains heavily then the city can expect flooding,” said Sitaram Kunte, BMC commissioner.

Sources in CR say trains will move cautiously if there is water logging, although the signals wouldn’t get affected due to recent improvements. CR has installed digital axle counters at Parel, Kurla, Thane and Kalyan that would keep the signals functioning even if the tracks are submerged under water.

The CR authorities claim that they have already stabled 38 water pumps across the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-Karjat/Kasara route to dish out water accumulated on tracks. “We have to be careful and are prepared during high tide days when waves would be over 4.5mm,” said Mukesh Nigam, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai) Central Railway.

Similarly the Western Railway too claims to have made arrangements. Officials claim that they have placed 68 water pumps across the Churchgate-Virar route. “We have identified newer locations like Santacruz, Dadar, and even carsheds and have placed more water pumps,” said a WR official on condition of anonymity.

The other low-lying areas identified by the authorities are at Matunga, Mahim, Bandra, Borivli and Kandivli. Meanwhile the civic body has paid R 1.79 crore to Central Railway and R 44 lakh to Western Railway for cleaning nullahs and culverts. The BMC has also undertaken installation of 50 pumps in low-lying areas.

On the very first ‘serious rains’ on June 7, there was water logging between Bhandup and Kanjurmarg stations on Central Railway (CR). This coupled with other technical failures at Thane such as stoppage of train and problems with the pantograph that supplies power to the train, led to severe delays during the late evening hours on Friday.  

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