On Friday morning there was overcrowding on Harbour line as there was a two-hour signal failure before Masjid railway station. It led to disruption in train services in the morning leading to rush on the Harbour line stations of Central Railway.
According to sources in Central Railway, the entire section on Masjid to Dockyard Road went red in the early morning hours starting at 4am. These signals weren't blinking to yellow or green colour thus resulting in stoppage of trains on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Panvel section on the Harbour line.
"There was technical failure with the signals due to which trains were running on A-marker. The problem was there till around 6am or so until which time, the trains were cancelled and running late," said a CR official on condition of anonymity.
But by then the crowds at the railway stations began to swell. These are the people who are allowed to travel by local trains before 7am, between 12 noon and 4pm and after 9pm only. The CR officials agreed that as the signals weren't functioning, the trains were delayed and there was more crowding than usual at the stations especially on Vashi-Panvel belt in Navi Mumbai on the Harbour line.
The problem was rectified by 6am but this had spiralled the issue. Senior officials from CR said that the trains were delayed by 15-20 minutes until noon. The CR authorities cancelled 10 services and more than 30 services lost its schedule and were delayed that led to crowding inside trains and on platforms.
At present, there are 574 train services operating on the Harbour line out of the total 1685 services. "The railways need to improve the services to handle crowding. On Friday, we started a drive asking passengers to wear masks so that our negligence doesn't give the government reason to reduce services. It's wrong to blame train passengers for the apparent increase in Covid cases now," said Nandkumar Deshmukh, president, Federation of Rail Passenger Association that carried out a drive at Thane station. Deshmukh claimed that they distributed 150 masks, majority of which to those who were already wearing them.