25 years since the first Dombivli-CSMT local: A ray of hope for Dombivlikars that didn't shine bright enough

25 years after the commencement of the first local train between Dombivli and CSMT, there are a few things that a commuter like me hopes will bring a better commuting experience

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On July 1, 1994, the first Dombivli-CSMT local train was introduced after former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, Ram Kapse and Rambhau Mhalgi had put relentless efforts in introducing the first ever local train for Dombivli. 

As a Dombivli resident and commuter, let me tell you, the local train service between the two Central Railway stations has been nothing short of a blessing. While talking to a fellow Dombivli passenger, I learned that 25 years ago, there were no local trains that started from Dombivli and every passenger had to get on a train which started from Kalyan, in return causing inconvenience and trouble. 

After which, the Dombivli Passengers Association took up the initiative and went on taking signatures from every Dombivlikar to submit the list to the then MPs Ram Kapse and Rambhau Mhalgi, who eventually involved the Central Ministry to start the service. Accordingly, on July 1, 1994, the first ever local train began its journey from Dombivli railway station which came as a ray of hope for the passengers travelling in the trains every day.

As time passed, the frequency of the local trains starting from Dombivli increased and on the other hand, so did the number of passengers boarding the train.. However, the ray of hope for the people of Dombivli began fading away as by 2019, the people had grown accustomed to the cancelled trains, daily late schedule of the trains, and overcrowding, which is a different problem in its own. Dombivli eventually became the station with most number of passengers boarding the train. 

Over the years, people have been frustrated with the casual behaviour shown by the Railway authorities towards their complaints and at a certain point, the passengers took to vandalism in order to have their voices heard. While such behaviour can never be justified, it shows the poor state of the layman in this city, where to be heard, one has to either go rogue or become a victim of a horrendous incident. 

I have faced so much of hassle while travelling in a local train during peak hours where I am exposed to a train crowded enough to make me claustrophobic. And as I drift away in the crowd of the train, the ray of the hope that was kindled 25 years ago, seems bleak. 

But not all hope is lost here. Despite being exposed to such an environment, trains from Dombivli have witnessed so many positives. People have made Dombivli locals their second home as they sing in the local trains, they laugh when the rains make the whole city gloomy, they eat when the 'train ka group' has something to celebrate, and these locals are decorated during festivals. 

As we celebrate 25 years of the first-ever Dombivli-CSMT local train, it is vital that instead of accepting the casual behaviour put up by Railways and trying to blend in, we resist.

Because the issue cannot be resolved in a single day, taking a small step by making the train schedule accurate can become a path-bearer towards a greater change. And as we try to thrive towards a better experience for Dombivli passengers, let us hope that we fight for a better system and not a fourth seat in a local train. 

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