Mumbai: A road overbridge in Mumbai’s suburban Andheri area collapsed on Tuesday morning due to heavy rains, bringing to a halt the local train services and affecting some long distance trains that caused huge inconvenience to the commuters, officials said.
The Gokhale road overbridge, built in 1971, collapsed near the eastern side of the railway station, a BMC disaster management cell official said after the incident for which the government came under attack.
“Incessant rains apparently caused cracks in the ROB, resulting in its collapse. Thankfully, no train was passing on the track under the bridge at that time,” said a civic official.
Due to the collapse, local train services of the Western Railway were stopped, causing huge inconvenience to the daily commuters, for whom local train services are the lifeline.
Some long distance express trains were cancelled and rescheduled because of the collapse.
Many of Mumbai’s famous tiffin carriers — locally known as ‘Dabbawalas’ — expressed their inability to operate as train services on the Western Line were stopped.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal visited the site of the collapse in the afternoon and said he had ordered an inquiry by the Commissioner of Rail Safety whose report would have to be submitted within 15 days.
Expressing regret over the accident, he said it was “very unfortunate” and “most unexpected”.
He said around 700 employees of the railways, helped by some experts from Delhi and Lucknow, were working on the restoration work and the train services will be resumed completely by Tuesday (July 3) night.
The minister said the last safety audit of the ROB had been conducted on November 12 last year and nothing wrong had been found in that.
Goyal said that during the next six months, a joint safety audit will be conducted by the railways, the BMC and IIT at the 445 road overbridges, foot overbridges and bridges over the pipelines in Mumbai as part of efforts to improve safety for the commuters.
Earlier in the day, he tweeted, “Part of Road Over Bridge has fallen on tracks near Andheri Station impacting rail traffic. Directed officials to speed up repair work and rapidly restore traffic in close coordination with other departments. I have also ordered an inquiry by Commissioner of Rail Safety.”
The Overhead Equipment (OHE) was damaged and a team of engineers are working to restore services, WR Chief Public Relations Officer Ravinder Bhakar told news agency PTI.
“A part of the ROB collapsed, bringing the Up and Down local train services of the WR to a halt. Our officers are at the spot and making efforts to restore the services,” he said.
The structural audit of all foot and road overbridges, including the one which collapsed, is underway, a senior WR official said.
On September 29 last year, a foot overbridge (FOB) linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban railway stations in Mumbai had collapsed, leading to a stampede in which 22 people were killed and several injured.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the Mumbai police commissioner to ensure smooth traffic movement and asked the BMC to increase its bus service for the convenience of commuters.
Mumbai NCP chief Sachin Ahir termed it as “another failure” of authorities and criticised the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena for not doing enough for residents of the mega city.
However, BJP leaders here said it was time to help the stranded commuters rather than indulging in ‘blame game’.
Guardian minister of suburban Mumbai Vinod Tawde said the railways should conduct a thorough probe into the incident.
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said the Railway minister should ensure hassle-free and fearless journey for traveller.
“The regular occurrence of accidents has shaken the confidence of rail passengers,” he said in a video message.
The Western Railway has made arrangements for the refund of tickets of passengers travelling by long distance trains which were cancelled because of the incident.
As a special case, WR commuters were permitted to travel on alternate routes of the Central Railway, the WR said in a statement.
Private airlines Vistara and Jet Airways said they will accommodate passengers running late due to traffic congestion because of the incident.