Mumbai: Mumbai’s rail and road transport systems struggled on Tuesday as the first blast of monsoon flooded swathes of the metropolis, with a taxi strike adding to commuting troubles.

Rainfall of 69 millimetres in the island city and 103 mm in the suburbs in the 24 hours since 6am on Monday crippled suburban railway traffic on all three lines, which carry around 8 million commuters each day. Trains on the three lines-Western, Central, and Harbour- ran 40 minutes to 2 hours behind schedule. On Monday, service on the Western line was stopped for about 40 minutes. On Tuesday, central line halted seercies for nearly two hours as showers through the night caused water logging on railway tracks.

Commuters stranded at suburban stations were further inconvenienced by a sudden strike called by a couple of taxi unions which were protesting against cab aggregators like Uber and Ola. Ironically, the strike actually helped the aggregators as hordes of hapless commuters turned to them, driving up fares. Buses operated by Mumbai’s state-owned BEST undertaking ran crowded and slow due to waterlogged roads.

The central railway control room said some afternoon trains were cancelled on prediction of a high tide in the Arabian sea. “We cannot take the risk of running the trains during heavy showers and high tide," a railway advisory said.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai issued a separate advisory asking people to stay indoors and step out only if it was necessary.

Collapse of public transport during monsoon is not new to Mumbai. In recent memory, the deluge caused by a record high rainfall coupled with high tide flooded Mumbai on July 26 in 2005 and disrupted road, rail and air transport. Though a calamity of similar proportions has not struck Mumbai since then, disruption of transport systems and flooding have been routinely witnessed.

The issue had political repercussions too. The opposition Nationalist Congress Party held railway minister Suresh Prabhu responsible for the chaos and not improving the suburban railway’s monsoon preparedness. The party’s city unit chief Sachin Ahir blamed the Shiv Sena also, which rules the MCGM with the Bharatiya Janata Party, for the civic mess in Mumbai.

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