KORAPUT: Passengers of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express faced a major scare after the train was stuck in the middle of the tunnel between Tikri and Rouli railway stations for five long hours on Monday night. The incident took place at around 8.30 pm after the train hit an electric pole that was lying on the track. Girija Kumar Choudhury, a passenger who was on his way to Bhubaneswar, said he felt a sudden jerk and the train came to a screeching halt.
“Panic gripped the passengers who screamed in fear due to the sudden and abrupt stoppage. However, we were later informed that the train had collided with an iron pole meant for electrification,” he said. Due to the heat and smoke from the engine, which was attached to the front of the train, some passengers, including children and senior citizens, felt suffocated.
Sources said with mobile signals unavailable in the middle of the tunnel, it was impossible to contact the nearby railway authorities. Finally, a railway staff managed to walk his way back to Tikri (it took him around 45 minutes) and informed the Station Master, who subsequently contacted Rayagada Railway authorities and informed them about the situation.
Later, a rescue train was sent to the spot. Soon after the arrival of the rescue train, the track was cleared and Hirakhand Express resumed its journey at about 1.30 am and reached Bhubaneswar at 3 pm. The train was delayed by seven hours, said the Station Superintendent (on duty) of Bhubaneswar.
Sources said many passengers have lodged complaints alleging negligence of Railway officials behind the incident. They also urged the Railway Ministry to boost safety measures for operation of trains on Koraput-Rayagada route (KR Line). No inquiry team from the Waltair division had reached the spot till last reports came in.