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9hr freeze on tracks

Jamshedpur, May 19: On the first day, it parried. On the second, it perished.

Train services in the Kharagpur-Tatanagar section of South Eastern Railway (SER) were disrupted for almost nine hours as Maoists blew up tracks at Khatkhura halt, near Jhargram in Bengal’s West Midnapore district, early this morning, making their presence strongly felt in the last lap of a five-state, 48-hour bandh.

The blast, triggered through powerful can bombs around 2.15am, left a 2ft crater on the tracks and affected both up and down lines. Overhead power cables also snapped under the impact. Though no casualty was reported, shards of glass from the smashed windshield of a goods train injured its driver and his assistant.

The Tatanagar-Howrah Steel Superfast Express, two passengers trains between Tatanagar and Kharagpur (348 and 354) and the Tata-Badampahar Passenger had to be cancelled.

Several long-distance trains, including the Puri-Hardwar Utkal Express, Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express, Sambalpur-Howrah Sambaleshwari Express and Chennai-Guwahati Express, were made to run through Adra instead of Tatanagar. The Howrah-Ahmedabad Express was also diverted from Chandil and ran via Muri and Hatia. Others were stranded at various railway stations under Chakradharpur division, inconveniencing passengers.

A section of passengers of Steel Superfast Express created ruckus at Tatanagar station after the cancellation was announced. They demanded that their tickets be refunded immediately, prompting railway authorities to open a special counter. Some others who wanted to catch a flight from Calcutta were forced to shelve their plan.

Station manager A.K. Agarwal said normal traffic was restored only around 11am. “Railway officials from Kharagpur division rushed to the spot with paramilitary forces to oversee repair. The up line was restored around 8am and movement of trains on the down line resumed at 10.50am,” he said, adding that some long-distance trains in Chakradharpur division were running behind schedule: “Complete normality is expected by late evening.” nSee Page 17

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