Odisha: Passengers rue train delays amid route congestion

With around 170 trains passing through Rourkela junction daily, including 52 passenger and numerous goods trains, the railway infrastructure is overstretched.
While SER attributes the delays to unprecedented route congestion, passengers accuse the railway of prioritising freight revenue over their comfort.
While SER attributes the delays to unprecedented route congestion, passengers accuse the railway of prioritising freight revenue over their comfort. Photo | Express

ROURKELA: Passengers travelling on the bustling Howrah-Mumbai main line of the South Eastern Railway (SER) are facing delays, particularly at Rourkela junction station, sparking widespread resentment.

While SER attributes the delays to unprecedented route congestion, passengers accuse the railway of prioritising freight revenue over their comfort.

Passengers alleged goods trains are given precedence, leading to detention of passenger trains at various stations in Chakradharpur division, a practice ongoing for an extended period. A reality check by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) confirmed delays in mail and superfast trains.

According to social activist VP Tiwari, CRIS data reveals long delays in trains passing through Rourkela. For instance, the average delay for Maurya Express is 51 minutes while the LTT-Shalimar Express faces a delay of 4.36 hrs. Similarly, delays ranging from 1.01 hrs to 4:18 hrs have been reported for several other trains, affecting passengers, especially during the scorching summer.

The Rourkela Bar Association (RBA) recently submitted a memorandum to the divisional railway manager, highlighting the plight of passengers travelling within Odisha from Rourkela. Trains like Rajya Rani Express, Bhubaneswar-Rourkela Intercity Express, Tapaswini Express, and Samaleswari Express are consistently running several hours behind schedule.

With around 170 trains passing through Rourkela junction daily, including 52 passenger and numerous goods trains, the railway infrastructure is overstretched.

Suggestions for additional lines and extensions to ongoing projects have been proposed to alleviate congestion. However, the proposed East-West Dedicated Freight Corridor is yet to get going.

Chakradharpur-based senior divisional commercial manager and spokesperson Aditya Chaudhary said it is untrue that SER is stressing only on freight revenues, adding running of passenger trains with best possible services to passengers remains top priority of SER.

He, however, admitted traffic congestion through Rourkela and added necessary steps are being taken to address the issue.

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