An alert patrolman averted a possible railway mega-disaster with boulders breaking loose from the hills and hurtling on to the rail tracks in the western ghats near Lonavala, early on Friday, an official said.
According to the Central Railway (CR), some heavy boulders, measuring 1-2 metres, broke loose and crashed on the railway tracks between Nagnath-Palasdhari on the Lonavala-Karjat sector, around 1 a.m.
The onduty patrolman Motiram Lobhi detected the falling boulders, mud and stones blocking the railway line near the tunnel No. 26, around 111 kms from Mumbai.
Acting quickly, he waved a red signal and stopped one train engine which was in the vicinity and took other necessary steps to protect the railway lines.
Then Lobhi called the higher officials and informed them of the incident as heavy rains continued to lash the ghats region for the past three-four days.
A boulder train with equipment like stone-breakers, safety gear was promptly dispatched to the site to inspect and initiate the track clearance and restoration works in the wee hours of today.
Several of the large boulders were split and removed and after carrying out other necessary repair works, the lines were finally restored for normal train operations around 8 a.m., said a CR Spokesperson.
Meanwhile, several long-distance trains on both sides of the Mumbai-Pune sector were diverted to the third line owing to the mishap and suffered delays of between 30-60 minutes.