Train services at Howrah limped back to normalcy on Thursday, but railway officials sounded the alarm over waterlogging in the yards and carsheds. They said if the water did not recede by Thursday night, it would cripple services on Friday.
“It will be difficult to maintain services on Friday if the water in the yard and carshed does not recede,” warned Swapan Chowdhury, divisional railway manager (DRM) of Howrah. “We cannot take the rakes to the yard because of the waterlogging,” he added. Most of the EMU rakes of Eastern Railway (ER) are being kept at the Bandel carshed, and conditions do not seem to be improving with the continuing rain.
ER officials said services were behind schedule and 13 locals were cancelled on Thursday, some for the rain and others because it was a holiday. Three long-distance trains — Shaktipunj Express, Coalfield Express and Shipra Express — were delayed for over 30 minutes each. “Accumulated water on the tracks causes problems in the automatic signalling circuits,” an official said.
On South Eastern Railway (SER), trains were more than 30 minutes late. Officials blamed the choked outlets of Howrah municipality for the waterlogging. “The two main outlets of the Jhil yard and the EMU carshed are choked. We have pointed this out to the civic officials a number of times, but no effective measures have been taken,” an official complained. SER’s Tikiapara carshed, too, is awash. “Water still stands inside the carshed,” he added.
Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) officials admitted that choked outlets were the cause of the trouble. The two main outlets from the ER and SER carsheds — one through Karpoor Gali into the Hooghly, via GT Road and Golabari lockgate, and the other to the Howrah drainage canal — needed clearing.
“This year, we have cleared 19 points but that was not enough,” admitted Ramlal Chatterjee, HMC mayor-in-council (conservancy and roads). “We need an estimated amount of Rs 70 lakh for the work and funds are a major hindrance,” he added.
According to him, the high tides in the Hooghly, too, were obstructing smooth outflow of rainwater. “There is also water from nearby ponds overflowing into the Tikiapara carshed,” Chakraborty said.
To clear the tracks, the Golabari lockgates were opened on Wednesday. MIC Chakraborty alleged that a lack of civic sense was also to blame for the problem. Carcasses of cows, buffaloes and other animals are dumped into the drainage canal, choking it during the monsoon.