Commuters desperate to reach home after being stranded at Maidan station struggle to board an overcrowded bus at Esplanade on Thursday evening. Picture by Sayantan Ghosh
Thousands of Metro commuters returning home were stranded for more than an hour on Thursday evening after an air-conditioned rake stalled at Maidan station because of a probable short circuit.
The lights went off, the AC fell silent and puffs of smoke came out of the underbelly of the rake just before the doors were to close for it to head north, officials said.
Metro services were suspended between Tollygunge and Chandni Chowk stations from 8.22pm till 9.42pm, forcing commuters to get into overcrowded buses or run after taxis whose drivers either refused them or demanded more than the metered fare.
Truncated Metro services were available between Dum Dum and Central stations in the north and Tollygunge and New Garia (Kavi Subhash) in the south.
“Since the snag happened at the station and the doors were open, commuters could step out before panic set in. Had this happened inside the tunnel, there might have been a problem in evacuating the passengers,” a senior official of Metro Railway said.
Emergency lights were the only source of illumination in the eight coaches after the short circuit snapped power supply.
Dipanwita Das, who lives near Lake Market, had entered Chandni Chowk station at 8.45pm to catch a train back home from office. “Guards at the entrance told me that train services had been suspended and probably would not resume tonight,” she said.
Dipanwita waited for a bus she could board for half an hour but didn’t find one that wasn’t overcrowded. “I approached at least four taxis but all of them refused to go where I wanted to,” she recounted.
Out of desperation, Dipanwita called a colleague who has a motorbike, but he had reached Rabindra Sadan by then. The man returned to pick her up and drop her home.
Rajat Subhra Sen, a resident of Haridevpur, was stranded with three friends at Esplanade for almost an hour. The trio tried but failed to board three buses and were refused by several taxis in front of Metro cinema.
After 40 minutes, they stopped a pick-up truck whose driver took Rs 10 each to take them till Rabindra Sarobar Metro station.
A Metro Railway official said a preliminary probe suggested that there was a short circuit in the “third rail current collector” that draws power to the train.