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Mumbai limps on second day after railway fire

Maharashtra,Crime/Disaster/Accident,Business/Economy, Thu, 19 Apr 2012 IANS

Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) Mumbai continued to limp for the second day Thursday as Central Railway (CR) suburban train services remained disrupted, impacting commuters and students. Work on a fire-ravaged signal network has been taken up on a war-footing, an official said.


A CR spokesperson claimed that they planned to operate around 85 percent of the 1,580-plus regular services on the suburban sector which is patronized by over 4.5 million commuters daily.


He said that the train service originating from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to the Kalyan route in Thane were "near normal", but the services towards CST remained disrupted and delayed.


"Until then, we have continued all the alternate arrangements for the commuters, including permitting them to travel by Western Railway or on long-distance trains," the official said.


Mumbai University announced that extra time will be given to those students who were unable to reach their examination halls.


The varsity officials also assured that those students who missed their exams Wednesday or even Thursday shall not lose their academic year and a decision on a re-examination will be taken Thursday.


Since Wednesday, the situation showed signs of improvement with indicators on many major stations working.


The signals and indicators had blanked out since 1 a.m. Wednesday after fire gutted the main signal cabin at Kurla station.


Following the blaze, the entire automatic signalling system collapsed and the CR resorted to running barely half the number of services on manual signals at heavily restricted speeds, leading to delays and cancellations.


Consequently, the task of replacing the electric and signal equipments, panels and related technical works, was taken up on a round-the-clock basis by the CR.


Millions of commuters and students in the city have faced a harrowing time since Wednesday as local trains were severely disrupted following the fire around 12.15 a.m. in the signal cabin at Kurla.


The fire was brought under control in a short time and there were no casualties reported.


The CR expects the restoration work to be completed Friday.


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.


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