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Thursday, November 8, 2012

While CR slept, commuter saved the day Rlys Did Not Issue Any Info About Crisis

 It was a commuter who alerted the BMC about the disaster that visited Central Railway (CR) on Wednesday evening. Only when his call came—a few minutes after 6pm—did the municipality learn that half an hour before, services on both of CR's lines had stopped. 

    Mahesh Narvekar, the chief officer of BMC's disaster management cell, said that had the civic body been infor med immediately about the disruption, it would have ensured that people stopped going to CST, thus preventing crowding at the station. 
    But the railways said on Thursday that an incident like a pantograph fault did not amount to a disaster and so it did not deem it important to inform the BMC. 
    CR's chief public relations officer V A Malegaonkar said, "Disaster in the context of the railways is a serious train accident caused by human/equipment failure. It includes severe disruption that may affect normal movement of train services, with loss of life or grievous injury to passengers." 
    He said services were restored within an hour of the pantograph incident. "Moreover, services kept running between Dadar and Karjat/Kasara, and Vadala and Panvel/Andheri during the affected period. Also, no long-distance trains were cancelled or delayed because of the incident." 
    Commuters responded to what they called the railways' callousness angrily. Kalyan resident Anjali Joshi, who is generally home by 7.30pm but on Wednesday reached at 10.30pm, said, "After a long day at work, I need to travel 90 minutes by train to reach my destination, fetch my children from the crèche, help them with their studies, cook the evening meal and get things ready for the next day so that I am not late for work. 
    "During a crisis, unless I am informed on phone and on time, how am I supposed to act?" 


5.37pm | Pantograph of CST-Dombivli fast local gets entangled with overhead wire as the train crosses Sandhurst Road 5.41pm | Two pantographs of Asangaon-bound local get entangled with overhead wire on the same track as the train pulls out of CST. CR said on Thursday the Dombivli local had disturbed the alignment of the wire 5.45pm | All trains on CR's main and harbour lines stop in the CST-Dadar and CSTWadala sections 6.53pm | The first two 
trains leave CST since the stoppage. One is for Panvel and the other for Dombivli, both slow locals 7.45pm | The rakes with entangled pantographs are cleared from the tracks 8.15pm | Services on fast track resume 
OVERALL EFFECT 160 services cancelled 
TAKING STOCK | CR has denied that pantograph design was responsible for the entanglements. It has said it will inspect overhead equipment to identify vulnerable spots 
    Text: Manthan K Mehta 

The BMC is the nodal agency for coordinating disaster relief. One of the reasons why commuters faced chaos on Wednesday was because it received information about CR's crisis half an hour late 

6.12pm | BMC receives a call on its hotline (108) from a person, who informs it of CR's breakdown 6.14pm | BMC calls up railway control room for confirmation. Told services would take 1-2 hours to be restored 6.18pm |Calls BEST to deploy additional buses at CST; 25 buses diverted to the spot6.20pm | Informs Mantralaya control room 
6.22pm | Calls up police control room, urging crowd control 6.28pm | Calls railways, learns that all six lines are shut 7.04pm | Calls railways, learns that slow services have resumed7.05pm | BEST informs deployment of 25 additional buses 9.23pm | BMC calls railways. Informed that fast services resumed at 9.18 pm Times View: Railways' disaster classification is absurd 
    In a city that has rail as its lifeline, lakhs of people getting stranded at stations during rush hour is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, it is absurd for the railways to say that only accidents can be termed disasters. Also, the state government cannot be absolved of negligence. Though a Wednesday-like crisis is not new to the city, it is only now that the government seems to have woken up to formulate transport and crowd management rules for railway emergencies. We hope the rules will be implemented, and not remain merely on paper.


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