Trains services on both the western and the central lines were delayed on Monday morning after protesters —commuter groups and residents — blocked railway tracks. The protests on the western line took place at Nalasopara, and on the central line at Diva Junction. At Nalasopara,
residents were objecting to the demolition of illegal structures close to the station, while at Diva, commuters were upset that the long-pending foot over bridge (FOB) was still not ready.
Western Railway services went for a toss just after the morning peak hours, around 10 am, when locals got on to the tracks after the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation began demolishing illegal structures near the station.
As the civic body razed 60 illegal four-storeyed structures, hundreds of angry residents blocked both local and long-distance trains. Six services were cancelled because of the protest, which went on for 45 minutes; 16 services ran late.
“Train services faced a problem till 10.45 am and some trains were short-terminated at Vasai,” said S Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway.
“Thankfully, the incident did not take place during peak hours, between 7.30 am and 8 am, or it would have been a bigger mess,” a railway official said, requesting anonymity.
In 2009, a similar incident occurred in Nalasopara, with a mob blocking lines complaining of frequent train delays.
On the central line, rail commuters who are part of passenger associations protested the Central Railway (CR) administration’s slackness in constructing an FOB at Diva Junction. The protest started at 8 am and was resolved only around 9.45 am after CR officials arrived at the spot.
“Authorities had promised to build an FOB by June 30. But the deadline has lapsed. People are forced to cross tracks and there are accidents everyday,” said Aadesh Bhagat, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
Passengers wanted the CR to open the FOB by August 31, before Ganpati, but authorities said they would not be able to complete work before the end of September. “It will be difficult to work during the rains. We will try to complete it in two months,” said an official, on condition of anonymity.
The protests did not stall services completely, though trains that passed had to crawl slowly as protesters were standing along the tracks. Services were delayed by 10 minutes.
“We have received representation from commuters for expediting the FOB, and we are looking into it,” said V Malegaonkar, chief PRO, Central Railway.
Now, there are two FOBs at Diva Junction, neither of which run to the end on the east side, forcing people to cross tracks. Passenger groups claim that as a result, 40 people have died at the level crossing.
In April, there was similar disruption at Vikhroli as locals wanted the FOB to be opened before the fifth and sixth lines on the Kurla-Thane stretch became operational.