Five days after the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express met with an accident in Odisha’s Balasore killing 288 people, the Up train chugged off from Shalimar station here at 3.25pm on Wednesday, five minutes behind the scheduled departure time.
As soon as the train pulled in on platform 2, there was a mad scramble to get into the general compartment and soon every nook and cranny of the two general second class coaches got filled up with people and their luggage.
Ranjit Mondal, whose son has been missing since the June 2 accident, boarded the train to go to Bhubaneswar to look for his son again.
Mondal from Sandeshkhali said his 18-year-old son Dipankar had boarded the ill-fated train with his friends to look for a job in Chennai.
“His phone has been ringing since the accident but no one is picking it up. I spoke to him minutes before the accident. He is yet to be tracked and I decided to look for him again,” he said.
Swati Chamoli, who is also travelling in the train, said, “I'm travelling for work to Chennai. Let’s hope the journey goes on safely.” Paromita, who is also on the board the train, said, “I hope nothing goes wrong now. There is a fear at the back of my mind, but hope the journey is safe.” Another passenger Manik Bauri, who stood sweating with scores of others in a serpentine queue at the station, is a cook by profession and is travelling to Chennai to either join work or for treatment.
While some lucky passengers have managed to secure reserved berths on this train with a huge waiting list, many others such as Bauri are travelling by a general unreserved coach.
“I am scared … the TV grabs from the accident last Friday are fresh on my mind. But I have a job in a guest house as a cook and my employers will dock my pay if I delay getting back to work,” he said.
Most of those who stood in the queue for the general coach were labourers, cooks, restaurant workers and drivers travelling to Chennai, Vizag and other industrial cities, to join or rejoin work.
“We got to know that this train would run on Wednesday quite late. No reservation was available. But getting there (to Chennai) is essential as our families depend on our earnings. So we have to go whichever way we can, however we can,” said Bauri, while a fellow passenger nodded in agreement.
Some with no place to sit are left standing. Said Raju Pal, from Gangasagar in the Sunderbans delta, “there is no point waiting in Bengal … I have to go. Yes, I am uneasy after the accident, but I have travelled by this train for 12 long years. This will be just another journey.”
Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.