Mumbai, April 18 (IANS) Millions of commuters and students in the city faced a harrowing time Wednesday as local trains were running late by around 40 minutes following a fire in a signal cabin on the Central Railway (CR), an official said.
Around 12.15 a.m. early Wednesday, fire gutted the main signal cabin at Kurla station and sent the entire electric and signal cabling network on the blink.
The fire was brought under control in a short time and there were no casualties reported.
Work restoration of the electrical and signal cable network has been taken up on a war footing, but the CR said it could take at least two-three days for the situation to normalize.
Mumbai's suburban train services, comprising Western Railway, Central Railway and Harbour lines, which ferry nearly eight million people to and from their homes and offices in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad, are the lifeline of the country's commercial capital.
The minor blaze hit suburban services on CR and the harbour line severely, delaying them by at least 45 minutes.
Besides regular commuters, several thousands of students appearing for various ongoing university examinations all over Mumbai and Thane could not reach their exam centres on time.
However, Mumbai University prevented a panic reaction by permitting all exam centres to grant extra time to students who were delayed.
Similarly, long-distance services were affected up to Pune and Nashik in a big way, forcing cancellation of at least four incoming and outgoing trains, and long delays for many other incoming or outgoing services, the official said.
The delays and cancellations marred the holiday plans of thousands of people, leading to frayed temperatures at CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), Dadar, Kurla, Thane, and other important stations on the CR.
The BEST and MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation), which run Mumbai and state government buses, deployed nearly 200 additional buses to clear the huge rush of commuters Wednesday.
The two highways serving the city and other main and arterial roads witnessed massive traffic jams and slow-paced movements as the train commuters were diverted to the roads.
NGOs and organizations like Swabhiman Sanghatana chipped in by offering point-to-point drops for commuters affected by the train delays in suburbs like Chembur, Ghatkopar and Sion.
Some organizations and individuals have appealed to people remain indoors for the next couple of days and step out only in case of emergencies due to the disruption in rail services.
Meanwhile, the CR has permitted season ticket holder commuters to travel unhindered on either the local or long-distance or harbour line routes as a temporary measure.
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