The collapse of the eastern grid left hundreds of passengers stranded at Patna Junction after trains powered by electric locomotives got stuck in different parts of the state.
For the initial 15 to 20 minutes, the railway officials and passengers assumed that there was some minor breakdown, forcing trains at various stations, including Patna Junction, to halt. But around 2.30pm, when the news about the major power failure in several states, including Bihar, broke, the passengers rushed towards the enquiry counter to know the exact position of their respective trains.
To contain the chaos, the railway officials started announcing at all stations that trains running on electricity could not run and passengers would have to wait for five to six hours.
A couple sitting at platform number one looked tensed as their train (Farakka Express) was scheduled to arrive at 1pm but did not because of the power outage. “I have no idea as to when our train will arrive. It is more than two hours that we have been waiting for the train. It is really frustrating. I have never heard of an outage that affects so many states,” said Nisha Kumari.
She added: “The worst part of this situation is that we don’t even know when the power would be restored and when we would reach our destination.”
Passengers, especially who did not belong to the state, were seen tensed because of uncertainty over the restoration of train services. Praveen Chachondhia, a youth hailing from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh and working in a multinational company, loitered aimlessly from one end of a Patna Junction platform to the other.
Even the computerised railway helpline number 139 seemed defunct. It kept giving wrong information and said all the trains were running on scheduled time.
Rajeev Das, waiting for Brahmaputra Mail, said: “I called up 139 to find the exact position of my train. The computerised helpline told me my train was on time. But once I reached here, I found something else.”
East Central Railway (ECR) chief public relations officer Amitabh Prabhakar said 30 passenger trains, including 18 mail and express trains, were stranded apart from 48 goods train at different places in the ECR division.