Passengers waiting at Gulbarga railway station on Tuesday morning were puzzled to see the Okha (Gujarat)-Ernakulam Express, which is not assigned this route, pass through the station. They were in for another surprise as the train, which passed the station without halting, returned in five minutes, only to halt there for more than three hours.
The Okha-Ernakulam Express runs on the Konkan route but due to a derailment in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri, many trains have been diverted on alternative routes.
D D Sahu, Scientific Assistant of Kaiga Generating Station 3 & 4, who was travelling on the train, told Express that he had boarded the train at Surat enrote to Mangalore. The train was supposed to reach Ernakulam via Ratnagri, Madgaon, Udupi and Mangalore. When the train reached Panvel, the driver got a message that due to the derailment near Ratnagiri, his train has to be diverted via Pune. At Pune station, authorities announced on the public address system that the train has been diverted to Madgaon via Miraj. Hoping they would reach Madgaon by Tuesday noon, the passengers went to sleep.
When they woke up at about 7 am, they became suspicious when the train passed Gulbarga without stopping. By then the coaches had run out of water.
Sahu said some passengers pulled the chain near the Koranti Hanuman temple in Gulbarga and asked the engine driver where the train was heading and when it would reach Madgaon. When he could not give satisfactory reply, the passengers forced him to drive back to Gulbarga railway station.
Hundreds of passengers gheraoed Gulbarga station master D V Raman Rao and demanded to know why they were kept in the dark about the route. They questioned why the train was skipping Madgaon though many passengers were booked for that destination. Rao, who was unaware of the developments, contacted higher authorities.
Passengers were then given the option of cancelling their tickets. Some passengers cancelled the tickets and headed for their destination by hiring vehicles. At about 1.20 pm, the railways decided to take the passengers to Ernakulam via Madgaon and instructed the Gulbarga railway officials to divert the train to Madgaon via Hotgi, Bijapur, Bagalkot and Hubli. The train left Gulbarga at 1.40 pm.
Railway officials in Gulbarga said that there was no need to bring THE train to Gulbarga since it could have been diverted to Madgaon from Hotgi after Solapur.