Mumbai Floods: Railways take time to get back on track

Stranded and damaged rakes throw spanner into efforts to resume services; long-distance trains hit

MUMBAI: Regular travelers on the suburban railway will have to wait a while for train services to get back to normal.

Railway officials say they will require a few more days to resume services at full strength, with 14 rakes of the Central and Western Railways damaged in the downpour on Tuesday.

Officials said they have tried their best to resume operations. “On Tuesday, water had reached 200-300mm above the track level and so running trains was not possible. Some passengers had to stay for hours in one place. We were waiting the whole day and night to normalise services,” said one official.

On Wednesday, Central Railway (CR) struggled to resume operations, while Western Railway started partial services late on Tuesday.

CR officials said they would not have faced so much trouble had all the rakes functioned properly. But seven rakes — three on the harbour line and four on the main line — were marooned, causing services to be suspended for nearly two hours in the afternoon. “The rakes were taken to the nearby car shed for repairs, and the services were normalised,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, CR.

While Mr. Udasi said the services would run as per the normal schedule, it does not seem likely. Each rake is used for around four services per day, and then sent to the car shed for maintenance. Damage to seven rakes means that CR will approximately run 30 fewer services than usual.

Similarly, Western Railway will operate 30 fewer services than its 1,323 regular trips.

Motor damage

The rakes were damaged as they were standing in water for hours. The water level rose above the specified level, which damaged the motors of the trains. “These rakes will undergo an inspection, and can be put back on the tracks only after that. This may also take time if the motor coach is damaged,” said an official.

Long-distance trains that have been rescheduled and cancelled have created a backlog. Hence, the schedule will take at least three to four days to regain normalcy.

“Some trains will come from other divisions. And our rakes need to be checked thoroughly before we put them on the tracks. We will require minimum four days to restore the schedule,” said a senior railway official.

Central Railway also had to cancel many long-distance trains due to the derailment of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express between Vasind and Asangaon. The track has been restored, and services till Kasara have been resumed. “The overhead equipment work is in process, and after getting the fitness certification, we will run long-distance trains on this route instead of diverting them,” Mr. Udasi said.

Railway activist Subhash Gupta said the authorities should wake up and take precautionary measures to safeguard Mumbai’s lifeline. “Every year, the situation worsens during the monsoon. Why do the officials wait for this day? Many people have lost their lives; who will pay for this?” Mr. Gupta asked.