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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Condition of Kalwa Suburban Rail Commuters Remains Vulnerable

Nearly 147 Accidents Have Occurred in the Past Seven Months

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: Despite a series of agitations by local people, the Central Railway has been unable to solve the problem of overcrowding and resultantly commuters falling from the trains at Kalwa near Mumbai, which is common.

Kalwa city is in the Thane district and the Kalwa railway station is located between Thane and Mumbra station. Nearly 147 railway accidents have occurred in the past seven months since 90% of Kalwa-Mumbra commuters are unable to board the train due to overcrowding. Even if they try to board forcibly, they fall, Siddhesh Desai, President of the KalwaParsik Pravasi Sanghatana (KPS) said.

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Nearly 3.5 lakh people reside in Kalwa, while the number of Mumbra residents is over 3 lakh. Most of them commute by suburban trains. But no fast trains halt at Kalwa and even the slow trains originating from Kalyan, Badlapur, and other stations, are jam-packed by the time they reach Kalwa.

Now as if to add to the woes of the Kalwa commuters, the local fast trains and outstation trains which were earlier running from the old Parsik tunnel, are now routed through Kalwa-Diva new tracks (5,6), basically meant for slow trains.

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Eventually, the timetable is thrown out of gear and the local trains run 10 to 12 minutes late, Desai said. Besides, the outstation trains are run at full speed leading to accidents since due to curved tracks, the Gangmen working on tracks and local people hardly get any time to save themselves, he claimed.

Resultantly the commuters walk up to Kalwa car shed, from where the trains originate and proceed to the Thane junction, and try to board them. But they are prevented and even lathi-charged by the police since the entry into the train from any other place, except the platform is prohibited. 

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To resolve the issue, the KPS has demanded that, the new Kalwa-Mumbra-Diva (5, 6) lines are reserved only for local trains and the outstation mail trains should not be run on these lines. These lines were set up to segregate the Mail Express from the Mumbai local trains. If these lines are reserved for local trains, there will be more opportunities to run additional local trains, Desai said.

“Every local train starting or ending at Kalwa car shed stops for a few minutes near Kalwa station waiting for the signal. If a platform is provided near the car shed, the commuters from Kalwa can board the waiting trains. Incidentally, there is enough space to construct a platform, near the car shed”.

In this connection, NCP MLA and former minister Jitendra Awhad recently held a meeting with railway and police officials. He told the meeting that instead of introducing AC locals, more general (non-AC) local trains should be run. Besides, semi-fast trains should be stopped at Kalwa and Mumbra.

Also, the outstation trains should be run on the old Parsik tunnel track, instead of being run on slow tracks. The outstation trains emit more than 175-decibel sounds at any given time till 2.30 am. As per the Supreme Court guidelines, the sound limit should not exceed 45 decibels at the night. If the outstation trains continue to violate the decibel limit, no train will be allowed to run on this line, Awhad added.

It was also discussed in the meeting that while a monthly pass of the general class cost Rs 200, a single journey ticket of AC trains is Rs. 200 and the monthly pass of AC trains runs into Rs 1800. Similarly, over 6000 commuters travel by general local, whereas not more than 600 commuters can travel by the AC local.  

The meeting was attended by Siddhesh Desai, President, KPS, Nandkumar Deshmukh, President of the Mumbai Suburban Rail Commuters’ Association, A R Pathan, President of the Mumbra Rail Pravasi Sangh, Sudhakar Patangrao, President of the Konkan Rail Pravasi Sangh, Pratibha Bangar, Pranali Mohite and others.

Reacting to complaints A K Jain, CPRO, Central Railway said that more AC trains are being introduced as per the Bombay High Court’s direction so that the commuters would not fall since the doors are closed. Dombivali station has recorded the highest number of AC train commuters. Yet in response to Kalwa commuters’ demand, 10 AC trains have been replaced with general trains.

Now the number of commuters has gone up to 41,000 per day which was nearly 5000 commuters per day in this segment. The outstation trains are being run on the new tracks as per the technical feasibility. The demand to provide a home platform near the Kalwa car shed is not technically feasible. With more locals being introduced, the problem faced by Kalwa commuters would be solved, he added.


  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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