Khan Shahid Wahib and his family aboard the New Delhi-Howrah Duronto Express, which was stranded at Dhanbad railway station on Tuesday. (Gautam Dey)
Some missed medical appointments, some went thirsty, some juggled with travel options and all waited for the ordeal to end as an eastern grid failure — the worst in recent memory — wrecked train schedules in the Dhanbad division of East Central Railway (ECR) on a black Tuesday.
As many as 20 trains, including the New Delhi-Howrah Duronto Express, remained stranded at various ECR stations for six hours and more from 1pm.
Among the tormented were Urdu teacher in Delhi Khan Shahid Wahib, his wife Safia, three-month-old daughter Tahira and his elderly parents.
“We were offered food, but no water. I managed to buy a bottle of mineral water from the station,” the 42-year-old said in Dhanbad.
The family, on its way to Calcutta to meet an ailing relative, missed their appointment with the doctor.
“My wife’s sister is admitted to a clinic and we were to meet the doctor at 8pm. Now, we have to reschedule appointment,” Wahib said, adding that the disruption of train services was taking a toll on his septuagenarian father.
Garia (Calcutta) resident Torit Kumar Bose, another passenger on board the stranded Duronto Express, decided to hire a car. “I waited for over three hours and then it was frustrating. I decided to take the road after I learnt about the grid failure,” the 40-year-old said.
Not everyone had the means to afford such comfort.
Abdul Rahim (42), a grocery shop owner in Chittagong, Bangladesh, was caught in the situation while returning from Delhi after visiting Nizamuddin Dargah with friend Omar Farroque (33), a medicine supplier in Dhaka.
“Though overall arrangement was good — railway officials provided us with food — information is elusive. We don’t know when we will reach Calcutta. Our patience is wearing thin,” Rahim said.
Echoing him, Shubhankar Paul, who works at a private company in Hyderabad and was returning home to Calcutta after visiting his in-laws in Delhi, said in the evening: “Our train reached Dhanbad around 12.55pm. We are yet to be informed about resumption of services.”
Senior divisional manager (operations) of Dhanbad division Ved Prakash said they were in the process of shifting trains stranded at small halts to junction stations.
“More than 20 trains are held up at Phularitand, Kumandi, Rakhitapur, Gomoh, Hazaribagh, Bhojudih, Chandrapura, Gomia, Latehar, Tetulmari and Nagar Utari amongs others. Our priority is to bring them to nearby bigger stations so that passengers get better facilities,” he said.
He added that besides Duronto, New Delhi-Howrah Poorva Express, Jabalpur-Howrah Shaktipunj Express and Jammu-Muri Rourkela Express were among trains facing the ordeal.