Fire had a cascading effect on Central Railway services through the day, 115 trains affected
MUMBAI: After recent attempts to sabotage Mumbai’s local trains by placing large objects on the tracks, miscreants are now targeting railway property like signal cabins.
Around noon on Sunday, the signal cabin, or Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) system near Parsik Tunnel on the Central Railway (CR) caught fire. This worsened the impact of the mega block in the section on commuters, with over 35 trains being cancelled, and more than 80 trains delayed.
When railway officials inspected the cabin near Parsik Tunnel, it was found that the wires supplying power to the signal panel had caught fire, probably caused by a kerosene-doused cloth found at the spot. Media spoke to Divisional Railway Manager of the CR’s Mumbai Division, Ravinder Goel, about the incident. “It did not appear to be a short circuit.
Someone has deliberately started the fire, and this is not the first time. On April 28, too, someone had tried to break another glass window of the cabin and used an acid-laced cloth attached to an iron rod (to try and start a fire). However, our people were alert, and they managed to avert the fire. Even today, our people were alert and immediately took action to bring the situation under control,” Goel said.
He added that security had been tightened following the incident. “Luckily, the fire was contained in the cabin’s power supply room. If the fire had gutted the signal panel, it would have taken hours for us to restore the signalling system,” a senior railway official said.
A high-level team of railway officials, including Railway Protection Force and signal and telecom department officials, revisited the signal cabin around 8 pm. The team was preparing a joint inspection report at the time of going to press. The area around the signal cabin is surrounded by slum colonies, and the possibility of mischief cannot be ruled out, a senior official said.
The signal cabin fire had a cascading effect on CR services throughout the day. The CR had planned a block on the Up slow line (towards CST), between Kalyan and CST. During the block, they had planned to divert CST-bound slow trains to the fast line. However, due to the signal cabin fire, the signalling system on the fast line collapsed.
According to railway officials, the signalling system was restored using the back-up system around 1.10 pm. However, due to the closure of both the slow and fast lines towards CST, several trains were queued up on the tracks, severely inconveniencing passengers. Stations were overcrowded with holiday commuters at stations through the day.
“We left home nearly four hours ago. But by 2 pm, we have only managed to reach Dadar. Our child has been crying and we still have another 45 minutes of commuting to Kandivali,” said Vishal Chauhan, 32, a Titwala resident who was travelling with his wife and six-month-old baby. Like Chauhan, several commuters who set out on a holiday to meet friends and relatives were caught in the ensuing chaos that continued till the evening