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Train travel plans derailed

- Twin stations hit, 24/7 work to clear & repair tracks on

Viplab Chatterjee (55), along with his family, reached Ranchi station on Sunday to board the Ranchi-Asansol passenger train that would take him to his newborn grandson. When he learnt the train was cancelled, he hired a private vehicle to Asansol for Rs 9,000

Mamuni Das (40), looking forward to attend her niece’s marriage at Burdwan, Bengal, on Monday, found the Hatia-Burdwan passenger train cancelled. But unlike Chatterjee, she couldn’t afford a private vehicle. Almost tearful, she left

Rakesh Thakur (55) was eager to visit his son, a student of IIT-Kharagpur, but seeing the Hatia-Kharagpur passenger train cancelled from Ranchi station, returned home

Thousands of passengers at Ranchi and Hatia stations — separated by some 5km and six minutes — were left stranded on Sunday as seven trains originating from the duo were cancelled in the wake of Saturday’s derailment of 19 coal-laden goods train coaches on Ranchi-Muri section of South Eastern Railway.

Train services will be partially hit on Monday as well, because three of the coaches have not yet been cleared from the tracks.

On Sunday, train services were hit badly due to the damage of at least 400m tracks between Gautamdhara and Gangaghat stations near Heslabera village, around 45km from the capital.

Ranchi divisional railway manager (DRM) Deepak Kashyap and additional divisional railway manager (ADRM) Ramasish Yadav are supervising the operation of clearing the tracks.

ADRM Yadav ruled out sabotage.

“We have cancelled all the passenger trains on this route. Routes of some other trains stopping at these two stations have been diverted. Repair work is on, after which test drives will be carried out,” he said.

A railway source, who said three of the 19 derailed coaches were yet to be removed from tracks, added that the situation would normalise slowly.

This means train services will take a beating on Monday as well.

On Sunday, Ranchi-Garbetta passenger (8.15am), Ranchi-Howrah Intercity Express (5.45am), Hatia-Burdwan passenger (8.10am), Hatia-Kharagpur (9.20am), Hatia-Jharsuguda via Tata passenger (10.50am), Ranchi-Asansol MEMU (11.30am) and Ranchi-Dhanbad DMU (3.45pm) were cancelled.

So far, railway authorities have decided to cancel the three trains originating from Hatia on Monday.

But the decision on the four trains originating from Ranchi junction is yet to be taken .

Passengers of connecting trains also faced problems as train routes were also diverted on Sunday.

For example, Darbhanga-Hyderabad Express, which leaves the Bihar town at 7am and reaches Ranchi junction at 9.10pm, did not do so. Instead, the train was diverted directly to Rourkela, Odisha.

Arrivals were also late. Two important down trains — Gorakhpur-Hatia Express and Jammu Tawi-Hatia Express — reached Ranchi a gruelling five and nine hours late, respectively.

Usually, Gorakhpur-Hatia Express reaches at 7.15am and Jammu Tawi-Hatia Express at 9.45am.

“We are regularly informing passengers about all the cancelled trains through announcements at both Ranchi and Hatia stations and also through telephone inquiries. Passengers will get full refund on cancelling tickets,” a railway spokesperson said.

This is cold consolation for all those whose travel plans got awry.

“I set out to visit my married daughter in Asansol who has been blessed with a baby. When I learnt about the cancellation, my wife and second daughter, who are accompanying me, pressed me to hire a private cab at a high cost. You know how people fleece you when you are in trouble,” said Chatterjee.

“I had taken four days of leave from the bank where I work to meet my son Abhishek who studies at IIT-Kharagpur,” rued Thakur.