Thousands of local commuters in and around Panvel are grappling with severe disruptions to their daily routines due to an ongoing railway block at the Panvel station. While 32 special civic bus services are being operated to minimise inconvenience to passengers, they have alleged that alternate arrangement made by local authorities is not sufficient.
The block, which began on August 18 and is slated to continue until October 2, has been undertaken to facilitate the construction of two railway tracks for the dedicated freight corridor. The extended block hours, which now run from 12.30 midnight to 5.30am daily, have led to disruptive changes in the local train schedule. As a result of the same, the last local train from CSMT to Panvel departs at 10.58pm while the first local from Panvel to CSMT leaves at 5.40am. To fill the void, the railway has allowed passengers of affected section to travel via main on the same tickets/passes.
Cancellation of several local train services
“The block has resulted in the cancellation of several local train services, inconveniencing not only Panvel residents but also those from Kharghar, Mansarovar and Khandeshwar,” said Rajesh Kamble, a frequent commuter from Kharghar. Others averred that the special buses operated by the Navi Mumbai municipal transport between Belapur and Panvel are insufficient to meet the demand. The rickshaw drivers are taking advantage of the situation and charging exorbitant fares.
“Finding a bus at midnight is a big challenge hence auto-rickshaw drivers are taking advantage and charging fares more than double,” said Mahesh Jain, a Panvel resident. After 1.30am, rickshaw drivers charge Rs100 per seat for Panvel from Belapur, he added.