Saharsa, Aug. 21: Over 2,000 passengers booked on Saharsa-Patna Junction Rajya Rani Express (12567) had to postpone their travel plan to the state capital because the railways cancelled the train till today after it crushed 28 passengers at Dhamara Ghat station in Khagaria on Monday.
The Rajya Rani Express, the virtual lifeline of the inaccessible riverine belt, is the most preferred train of the people of Khagaria and Saharsa districts for going to Patna. The train had its inaugural run on March 18, 2012.
Baidnathpur resident Pankaj Kumar said: “We prefer the Rajya Rani Express for going to Patna because it takes only four hours. I was booked on the train today. But I had to queue up before a reservation counter for refund as the train was cancelled. Now I shall be travelling to Patna on Monday.”
Besides the travelling time, the Rajya Rani Express has several advantages. “We can travel in daytime and reach Patna before noon. Also, we feel safe in this train. It has only six stoppages and rowdy passengers cannot board it.”
Over 4,000 passengers travel in the Rajya Rani Express everyday on an average. It departs from Saharsa at 7am and reaches Patna Junction at 11am. It starts its return journey from Patna Junction at 11.45am and reaches Saharsa at 4.45pm. The train runs at an average speed of 53km per hour and covers a distance of 214km.
After the tragedy on the tracks at Dhamara Ghat railway station on Monday morning, the Rajya Rani Express was cancelled. Its service from Patna Junction to Saharsa (12568) resumed today. The train will run from Saharsa to Patna Junction on its usual time from tomorrow.
The railways incurred heavy loss because of the cancellation of the Rajya Rani Express, considered to be the Rajdhani Express on the Saharsa-Patna Junction route. M.A. Humayun, the senior divisional commercial manager of Samastipur under East Central Railway, told The Telegraph: “We had to refund about Rs 7.5 lakh to the passengers booked on this train.”
He said: “Protesters had set the train on fire on Monday. So, its movement was cancelled till Wednesday from Saharsa. It would run on its usual time from Thursday. It is the only train that runs between Saharsa and Patna Junction. The train was operated today from Patna to Saharsa taking into count the difficulties of the passengers.
Humayun said: “Railways incurred a heavy loss of Rs 8-9 crore after people torched two trains at Dhamara Ghat railway station after the Rajya Rani Express crushed 28 persons on Monday.”
The express train roaring down the tracks at 80kmph knocked dead 28 passengers who had walked into its path after getting off two other passenger trains on either side. Its driver Raja Ram Paswan sounded the horn. But the crowd crossing the tracks either did not notice or, sandwiched between the two trains they had got off, had nowhere to escape.
By the time the brakes brought it to a halt, the Saharsa-Patna train had dragged the bodies of 13 women, three children and 12 men some 400m under its wheels. A local mob handed out immediate street justice, thrashing Paswan and his assistant S.K. Suman mercilessly, torching the express and one of the other trains, and vandalising railway property.