Three weeks on, trains still sparse on route to Chennai 

Bahanaga Bazar station starts functioning normally from Tuesday
Representational image of the Odisha triple crash. (Photo | EPS)
Representational image of the Odisha triple crash. (Photo | EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: Over three weeks after the train tragedy at Bahanaga Bazar station that claimed 292 lives, several regular trains continued to remain cancelled on the busy Howrah-Chennai route due to track maintenance works causing inconvenience to passengers.

South Eastern Railway (SER) sources said 17 passenger and express trains have been cancelled and one train has been diverted on Wednesday due to the track stabilisation and related works at Bahanaga under Bhadrak section of Kharagpur division. While 18 trains were also cancelled on Tuesday and 19 on Monday, two trains each were short-terminated and two diverted on those days. As many as 36 multi-modal transport trains have been cancelled from June 25 to July 6 owing to operational reasons and maintenance works.

Although the Railways announced to have restored tracks nearly 51 hours after the accident, cancellation of some regular trains like Howrah-Puri Shatabdi Express, Howrah-Sri Sathya Sai Prasanthi Express, Kharagpur-Khurda Road Express, Shalimar-Secunderabad Express, Shalimar-Puri Express, Shalimar-Sambalpur Express, Hyderabad-Shalimar East Coast Express and Visakhapatnam-Shalimar Express has irked the passengers.

“What is disgusting is that the trains are cancelled without prior intimation to passengers. I had booked my ticket in Shatabdi Express and suddenly I found the train had been cancelled. If Vande Bharat can run through the same route, why can not the Shatabdi Express and for that matter other express trains?” wondered a passenger.  

Pilgrims coming to Puri for Bahuda Yatra (return journey) of Lord Jagannath had to face a lot of hardship due to cancellations of regular trains. On an average 130 trains, including 70 passenger trains and 60 freight trains ply through the Howrah-Chennai route. Inconvenience looms for passengers for some more days as there is no clear indication from the SER as to when the train services will be fully streamlined.
Railway sources, however, said the number of cancellations has dropped from over 100 trains in the first week of June to 17 now. Though the tracks have been restored and loop lines fixed along with the signalling system at Bahanaga Bazar station, the trains are allowed to ply at a restricted speed of 30 kmph due to ongoing stabilisation works.

Meanwhile, the railway station started functioning normally from Tuesday with the halt of passenger trains, which were temporarily stopped after the tragic accident on June 2. “After the successful commissioning of the signalling system at Bahanaga Bazar station, all passenger train services at the station have resumed as per their early schedule,” SER said in a statement.

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