CR AC local debut: Stampede-like scene, chaos at Thane station

(Eds: Adds details) Mumbai, Jan 31 (PTI) Chaos and stampede-like situation prevailed at suburban Thane station on Friday, as commuters thronged to board the air-conditioned local on the first day of its regular run.

The AC train services started from the early hours of the day, but the problem arose after 8 am, when the peak hour rush began on Mumbai's suburban rail network.

According to eyewitnesses, passengers thronged the station to board the train, causing a stampede-like situation on platforms.

The train's automated doors would not close because of overcrowding, a commuter said.

Similar scenes were witnessed at all stations, causing the situation to deteriorate further.

Anticipating such a situation, CR deployed security personnel inside and outside the train, but the crowd seemed to have gotten the better of them.

The ensuing chaos also led to delay in the scheduled train services by 15 to 20 minutes during the morning peak hours, a railway official said.

'We are appealing to people not to board the AC train without a valid ticket, so the doors of the train close without any problem,' chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said.

Security will be beefed up further inside and outside the train at Thane station during the evening peak hours from 4.30 onwards, he added.

Passengers said CR had replaced a regular service with the AC one during peak hour and this had caused over-crowding.

'There was hardly any space to move on the platforms.

Morning peak hour was disrupted due to the introduction of the AC local. CR should have introduced the AC service in a new time slot rather than replacing a regular peak hour service,' said an irate commuter.

Another passenger said the 9:19am AC local departed at 9:45am, and this delay hit the schedule of normal services on the line, with trains running 15-20 minutes behind schedule in the morning, leading to crowding at Thane and subsequent stations on the route.

Incidentally Thane is one of the country's most crowded stations with daily footfalls running into several lakhs.

CR officials admitted that the AC local caused over- crowding once morning peak hour rush started on the network at 8am.

An official said the delay was because of non-closure of the AC trains's doors due to overcrowding.

CR authorities did not disclose the number of tickets sold for the AC local on its first day as a regular service but sources said the number was around 100.

The Central Railway will operate 16 services of the AC local on Trans-Harbour line between Thane-Nerul, Thane-Panvel and Thane-Vashi stations. PTI KK ARU BNM BNM