In the wake of yet another derailment on Konkan Railway, passengers of an Express train were stranded at Ratnagiri for nearly ten hours, after a goods train veered off the tracks the previous day, and threw operations out of gear.

The train schedule went haywire after a goods train derailed near Chiplun on Tuesday. Pic/PTI
The train schedule went haywire after a goods train derailed near Chiplun on Tuesday. Pic/PTI

The Rajyarani Express arrived in Ratnagiri at 3.30 am yesterday, and only left from there in the afternoon at 1 pm. Train movement on Konkan Railway went haywire after a goods train derailed near Chiplun on Tuesday, around 7.45 am.

On Tuesday evening, 11004 Sawantwadi-Dadar Rajyarani Express was the first train to leave from the region for Mumbai, and after a slow crawl through Sindhudurg, Kankavli, it pulled into Ratnagiri at 3.30 am on Wednesday.

Passengers waited for ten long hours without electricity in the train. Some chose not to board the train as it left Ratnagiri finallyPassengers waited for ten long hours without electricity in the train. Some chose not to board the train as it left Ratnagiri finally

Thereafter, the train halted for more than ten hours, with passengers having no idea when it would move ahead. This correspondent was one of the passengers on the train.

Facing the heat
While people somehow managed to sleep through the night, the day only brought more misery with the sweltering October heat. There was no electricity in the train — this meant the fan blades wouldn’t move. The situation was worse in the AC compartment, with travellers having been cooped into a hot train without any open window.

Vinod Pednekar, one of the commuters, said, “No fan or light is working. It’s all mismanaged; we know that there was a derailment, but if they started their journey they should’ve seen to it that everything is taken care of. We have paid for these services and while boarding the train they didn’t even inform us about the difficulties.”

Some said they wouldn’t have boarded the train at all, had they known it would stop at stations for hours on end. Fahad Amandare claims he had to wait nearly four hours to board the train, and that at the station, there was no announcement. “I have to go to Mumbai, but the train is here. It is very disturbing that at the station, there is no announcement whether the train will leave,” he said.

Mismanagement
A senior railway official blamed it on the higher-ups, saying they were unable to estimate how much time would be required to restore normalcy. These officials, he said, had asked train services to be started prematurely, thereby leading to the chaos.

Some passengers met the stationmaster, G Kove, and registered their protest against the bad treatment meted out to them. Officials sought to explain that the train’s batteries get charged while it is in motion, and when it is stationary for a long time, external supply is required to be fed.

Kove said, “Whatever information we have been receiving from our senior officials, we have been relaying to passengers. We were expecting the problem to be rectified soon, but it is taking some more time and, hence, the train has been halted at Ratnagiri. The reason there is no electricity in coaches is that we do not have sufficient cables providing electricity from an external source to connect to the interior coaches.”

When the train finally left Ratnagiri at 1 pm, some chose to not board it. Around 1.30 pm, free food packets were distributed to all passengers. It finally reached Dadar at 10.05 pm, 15 hours after its scheduled arrival time of 6.45 am.