BENGALURU: Chaos and fury prevailed among about 1,300 passengers at the City station late on Saturday night due to lack of any announcement or panel screen information on the prolonged delay of Bengaluru City-Chennai Mail.
Train No 12658, slated to depart at 10.40 pm from Platform One, finally left at 2.15 am on Sunday. The delay was because the Karnataka Express from New Delhi was late by over six hours, reaching the City station at 8 pm instead of 1.40 pm. The coaches of this train are sent to the maintenance depot and then it gets converted to the Chennai Mail.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) had to swing into action by 12.15 am to prevent any major law-and-order situation.
The station manager supposed to be on duty was missing, and a woman clerk at the enquiry counter was left alone to face the wrath of passengers. Even she was not informed of the actual position of the train.
Narrating their ordeal, senior citizen T M Nagarajan, a retired international banker who came from Koramangala with his wife Sucheta (68) to board the train, told Express that it was only after they reached the station around 9.30 pm that a display board flashed that the train would depart only at 12.20 am. “We just did not know what to do, whether to go back home or wait believing the train will start as scheduled. We chose to wait and went to the A/C waiting room to see it jampacked with no space for us to sit. The platform also was fully crowded,” he said.
Usually, those who book their ticket online receive a text message intimating them of any delay. “Why was this not done?” he asked. To add insult to injury, a railway employee was telling everyone in the waiting room to leave as he had to lock the room by 11 pm. After much pleading, the person allowed all there to continue waiting.
“When I realised the train was not coming, I called up the Divisional Railway Manager and informed him (about this). It was only after this that a message came on the public address system that the train would arrive by 1.15 am,” he said. However, the train left only by 2.20 am.
Senior Divisional Security Commissioner of RPF, Abhishek Kumar, who rushed to the spot post midnight with his team had to pacify the irate crowd and explain the situation to them. “Public were in a furious mood,” he conceded. “Among the most disturbing incidents was that a senior citizen (lady) wanted to attend nature’s call and her husband was worried they might miss the train if she went to use the restroom. I promised them I would ensure the train waited and then they went,” he said. “Public understood that delays happen and maintenance is being done with their safety in mind, but they were disturbed that they were kept in the dark about the actual departure timing.”
DRM Sanjiv Agarwal said the incident was not being taken lightly. “We will pull up the staff responsible for the lapse.” Conceding that it was a blunder not to keep the passengers updated, the DRM said the “announcements should have been done on the public address system”.
Karnataka Express was running late on Sunday also, but alternate arrangements have been made to ensure that Chennai Mail runs on time, the DRM added.