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Fog derails train schedule

Foggy conditions in north India have put brakes on trains leaving or reaching the state capital.

Seemanchal Express (12488) was on Sunday delayed by four hours and reached Patna at 3.25am instead of 11.25pm on Saturday, its scheduled arrival time.

Rajdhani Express (12310) was delayed by around three hours and reached Patna at 9am as against the scheduled arrival time of 5.40am. Magadh Express (12402), which was supposed to reach Patna on Saturday at 11.30am, reached at 10.30pm.

Sampoorna Kranti (12394) and Brahmaputra Express (14056) were delayed by seven and eight hours, respectively.

Mithlesh Ranjan (35), a private bank employee who was coming to Patna by the Rajdhani Express, said: “The weather has started having an impact on train movements. Almost all trains coming from New Delhi are delayed.”

He added: “I am a frequent traveller and fear that the situation might persist for the next three to four months. Our train was running on time but once it reached Mughalsarai, it started slowing down and stopped at various places because of the fog.”

Imtiaz Khan (42), who reached Patna from New Delhi in Brahmaputra Express, said: “The train did not leave New Delhi station on time because of the fog. The driver said it was not safe to run the train. I reached Patna Junction at midnight. It was difficult here. I had to struggle to find a rickshaw to reach my home in Kankerbagh.”

Railway sources said the situation could worsen in days to come. East Central Railway (ECR) chief public relations officer (CPRO) Amitabh Prabhakar admitted that the railways cannot do much. “Only some new technology can help deal with trains getting delayed because of fog. The resources with the railway are limited. It is also not possible to make any future forecast about train timings until an online monitoring system is in place,” he said.

Prabhakar added: “If a train departs from a particular place on time and gets stuck somewhere because of the fog, it becomes very difficult to say when it would resume journey and reach the destination. However, this does not mean that that we are not doing anything. It is our responsibility to ensure quality facilities to passengers. We will ensure that additional meals are provided to passengers travelling in trains that are running behind schedule.”

On safety measures, the CPRO said: “The drivers have been asked to run trains slowly in foggy condition. The speed of a train depends on the density of the fog. The speed should not exceed 8kmph in a foggy condition. Safety of the passengers is the top priority. All signal posts have been painted with yellow-and-black luminous strips. Visibility is being checked on a regular basis.”