Why were the trains late yesterday?

Last evening (Friday, 9th April 2010), the Harbour line trains were running late by over 40 minutes. And the reason for the delay seems pretty unbelievable.

The trains were late because a Andheri to Panvel train reversed at Wadala to head towards Andheri instead of Panvel!
In what is termed as a sequencing error, the motorman reversed the train after getting a signal from the cabin. It was only at King's Circle that the mistake was realised and then the train was cancelled at Mahim. On a funny note, whoever purchased a return ticket must have been surprised that his return journey would be really fast ;) Anyways, the consequence was obvious.

As always in such situations, people started panicking. And then yesterday's high temperature made things worse. The stations were overcrowded and the commuters over-irritated. I fail to understand one thing though: When such things happen (and then trains are often late), why don't people learn from their experience? I have noticed men and women pushing themselves beyond their strength and the train's capacity to occupy a toe-space on the footboard.

They have some silly doubts in their minds:
"Agli train late aayi toh?"
"Abhi train nahin aayi toh?"
"Next train mein chadhnaa nahin mila toh?"

I find it weird when this happens in the evenings when people are returning home. C'mon, you don't have to report at home and swipe a home-entry card at 9 pm! I can understand some people might have to reach home early for some unavoidable reasons, but not all the Mumbai local junta on the same day!

What to do when trains are very late:

Dear commuters, I suggest you do what my smart hubby does in such situations - he leaves from work a bit late. He avoids the panicky crowd and travels comfortably. His funda (that even I follow now) is simple - if such things happen around 7 in the evening, it makes sense to reach station only after nine when the situation is under control, the crowd has left and when you can board the train and travel comfortably.

If some of us, who can reach home late on some days, use this idea, we can help ease the crowd and the panic. This way the stations and the trains will be less crowded in such situations and people won't take the risk of travelling on the footboard or hanging on the windows.

Let us all travel safely and comfortably!