More than 24 hours after the rain on Saturday, trains continued to be delayed at Howrah station on Sunday morning due to flooding of tracks. All trains to and from Howrah, including the Rajdhani Express, were stranded at the last leg of their journey in the car-shed area.
Two long-distance trains and several suburban trains had to be cancelled. According to railway sources, it took about an hour for the Rajdhani Express to cover the last two km between the car-shed and the station platform. Division railway manager of Howrah station Swapan Chaudhury and chief commercial manager Somnath Mukherjee, who spent Saturday night monitoring the movement of trains, had to return to the cabin on Sunday from 11 am to keep the situation under control.
The trains, including the Rajdhani, had to wait for “paper signals” following a circuit failure in the signalling system, caused by waterlogging in the car-shed zone. Paper signals are written documents greenlighting a train.
There were also problems in the functioning of the route relay interlocking cabin in Howrah, from where train movement is controlled. Officials found it difficult to monitor the running of trains in the absence of the automatic signals. The Howrah-Amritsar Express and the Howrah-Gorakhpur Passenger trains were cancelled, while departures of the 3007 Up Toofan Express and the 5049 Up Gorakhpur Express had to be rescheduled. They departed four hours behind schedule. The Toofan Express, scheduled to leave Howrah at 9.40 am, left at 1.15 pm. The Gorakhpur Express, whose scheduled departure was at 1 pm, left Howrah at 6.45 pm.
An Eastern Railway spokesman warned that the situation would recur unless the state government cleared the Belgachhia canal of encroachment and silt.