Passengers stranded for nearly 10 hrs at Ratnagiri after train derails

With no electricity and no news of when their train would move, passengers of Rajyarani Express sweated it out as the train halted at the station on Wednesday, after a nearby derailment wreaked havoc on train schedules on Konkan Railway

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.

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.

Railway speak
Vaishali Patange, chief PRO, Konkan Railway sought to make the following clarifications. This reporter was also on the same train:

>> Free tea, biscuits, and drinking water were provided for passengers in the trains which are regulated at Ratnagiri, Kankavli, Chiplun, and Kudal stations. 
mid-day: We were provided packets of food with pulao and a bottle of water at around 1.20 pm at Ratnagiri station. We were stranded at the station since 3.30 am.

>> Passengers on 11004 Rajyarani Express were given free lunch at Ratnagiri.
mid-day: Most passengers in this train were given food, but around 200 people in the unreserved coaches had to raise a hue and cry before being given food at Sangameshwar station.

>> Sufficient stocks of snacks are available at tea stalls at stations. 
mid-day: Readymade packets of biscuits and wafers were available that passengers bought.

>> AC coaches are being charged where charging facility is available.
mid-day: The AC system was shut for a long time and we had to complain. It was started only temporarily. Moreover, mobile charging points were also not working between 9 am and 1 pm.

>> Free meals were arranged for passengers in train number 10111 at Khed.
>> Breakfast arrangements were ensured in all trains in the morning.
>> Refund facility has been provided at stations, for those who would like to cancel tickets.
>> Transshipment to buses was arranged yesterday for three pairs of trains in 99 buses, and as many as 5,960 passengers were transshipped. 
Konkan Railway is making the best possible arrangements.

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