Hundreds of passengers were left stranded for hours after suburban trains halted midway Saturday night as Central Railway (CR) effected special blocks to facilitate yard remodelling in Thane and check a new route relay interlocking system between Diva and Mulund.
All trains on the down fast line were diverted to slow line, resulting in additional load on the track. Mail and express trains were also diverted on the down slow line between Thane and Diva.
PRO A K Singh confirmed the chaos. “There were many problems on the central line, which may continue till Monday,” he said.
Trains started moving slowly and halting between stations late Saturday night. As time passed, backlog of delayed trains began stretching toward Mumbai, causing further delay.
By 12.40 am Sunday, several trains had come to a standstill. By 1 am, commuters started walking on tracks.
Auto drivers were seen making the most of the situation at Mulund Station, squeezing in four-five people for a trip to Mulund check naka. Auto drivers at the check naka, however, were not aware of the chaos, which eliminated the possibility of fleecing.
Residents of areas beyond Thane had no option but to stay on the slow-moving trains. Many incurred heavy expenses to get home to Mumbra, Dombivli and Kalyan.
Trains moved slowly till Kalwa but picked up speed after that. The problems continued Sunday morning, with only harbour line operational. By this time, auto drivers had become aware of the problem on central line and many were seen trying to overcharge.
“I left home in Vasind at 7.45 am to take an exam in Vidyavihar at 9.30 am. However, it took me three hours to reach there. I was lucky the examiners considered my case. I left Vidyavihar at 5 pm and had only reached Titwala at 9 pm,” said Sushant Damodare, an national eligibilty test (NET) candidate.
Most commuters who left work after 7 pm were stranded between Mulund and Kalva. “I took a fast train at 9.30 pm from Dadar. I reached Ambernath a little after 1 am. While men chose to walk on tracks, women commuters had little choice. It was distressing,” said Manali Lotlikar (24).