The Gadekar and Gaikwad family, comprising of six people, were on their way to Miraj, for a pilgrimage. Little were they aware of Indra's plans (God of rains) when they booked their tickets on the Mahalaxmi Express for Friday night. The Gadekar and Gaikwad families boarded at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) at 8:20pm and little did they suspect they would spend 17 hours just between Badlapur and Vagani stations. The Mahalaxmi Express stopped in her heels from 11pm on the main line of Central Railway. But by this time, most of the passengers were fast asleep. The Gadekars and Gaikwads woken up to a harsh reality around 5am on Saturday.
Satyavan Gadekar (64) said they were not informed by the railway authorities of their train being stranded due to the rains. "One of our passengers (Gaikwad) had wanted to get down at Sangli and we had kept an alarm for 5.00am and woke up to the co-passenger. At that time I realised, our train had not moved since Friday night. Worse still, there was no announcement made by the railways informing us passengers of the situation worsening outside. Only later in the day, around 11am when the rescue team reached our coach, did we get optimistic of getting out of the coach, alive.
Initially, the team insisted on providing help only to the women and children, refusing to allow me to get in the rescue boat, even though I am a senior citizen and visibly infirm. Only after my family members insisted did the rescuers let me get on to the boat. Let me tell you, it was impossible for us to disembark from the coach without the help of the rescue team.
Sandeep Vishwakarma, a resident of Boisar in Palghar, was on his way to Kolhapur, to take admissions in D K T E college, for Master of Technology (M Tech) course. However, he could not fulfill his deadline as he was stranded due to the floods on Saturday. Vishwakarama who was travelling in Mahalaxmi Express said, "July 27, was the last day to submit the application forms for the M Tech admissions. Sadly, I have missed the deadline and I don't know if the college would now consider my application.
I had boarded the train from Dadar railway station, which was surprisingly arrived on time. Till Saturday morning I had no inkling of my luck running out. Once we passengers realised we had no way out and no sign of a rescue team, some co-passengers handed out a rope and after a wading through water, we managed to reach the main road. Since there was no sign of the rescue team reaching our coach for long, since they were busy with other passengers, I decided to walk through the water logged area."
A pharmacy company employee, Suyash Suryavanshi, who was on his way home for the weekend, was stuck in the Mahalaxmi Express, for more than 12 hours. He along with his friends ventured in the water logging areas and came on the road, walking in neck-deep water. He then boarded a private bus provided by the Samaritans and reached Badlapur station.
Harishchandra Shedge, (56), one of the first rescued passengers Mahalaxmi Express, to reach Badlapur railway station. "I had boarded the train from Ambernath, to go to Karjat. It had been a long day at the factory and wanted to go home on time. Instead, I was forced to sit in the train for more than seven hours. It was rather frustrating, with thoughts running through my mind. At one time I thought it would been wiser staying back at the factory, since it was a safer option. My colleague too was with me and we both were stressed out. The railways had to only announce that the Mahalaxmi Express will not go ahead of Kalyan due to heavy rains, we would have never boarded the train in the first place.
A group of friends from an Information Technology (IT) company in Mumbai were on their way to attend a colleague's wedding at Kolhapur, to be held on Sunday. After being stranded, between Badlapur and Vangani stations, the group was compelled to return to Mumbai, giving the wedding a miss. Deepa More and Ninad Kadam, who were a part of the group of friends said, "After we boarded the train from Dadar at 8.40pm, we had never imagined our plans to enjoy would be washed away in this manner. Our families are worried sick since few of us were travelling a long distance for the first time."
Friday's rainfall turned out to be a nightmare for Vandana Pandey and her younger brother, who wanted to go to their father's house in Khopoli, but left stranded at Kalyan. "We had boarded the Kamyani Express train from Allahabad and we were to switch our trains at Kalyan Junction. We were to board the Mahalaxmi Express around 10pm, but were left stranded the central railways cancelled all train beyond Kalyan, due to heavy rains. At 3.42am the central railway finally announced, they will run a special local train which was to Khopoli. However the train just kept crawling and somehow we reached Badlapur station, after which, the train services were suspended yet again. This has been one of my worst experiences, ever. I am left with no money and now I am more worried of reaching home safely. The railways could have at least alerted us passengers of the rising waters and stopped the train at main station like Kalyan. There was no proper management and we were forced to take the train from Kalyan so late at night thinking the trains were running. But now we are sitting at Badlapur station as our mobile phone batteries have drained and we have no way to contact our family members."