Train services on South Central Railway were crippled as power supply was switched off from early on Sunday with the electricity employees joining the indefinite strike protesting against the Union Cabinet's decision to bifurcate the State.

Between 6 a.m. and 7.30 a.m. virtually every station was running on emergency power amid eports that express and passenger trains were coming to a grinding halt, especially on the Vijayawada-Gudur-Renigunta section. Railway officials said they were stopping movement of goods trains and cancelling passenger trains, in order to ensure movement of express trains.

Earlier, problems were experienced by Ongole, Venkatagiri and Tenali stations and it took a while before officials swung into action, drawing power from adjacent locations. "We are accorded top priority as far as electricity supply from the grid is concerned. So when supply is affected to one particular station, we have mechanisms in place with which we draw energy from the next station," said K. Sambasiva Rao, Chief Public Relations Officer, SCR.

"We are gearing up to run diesel locomotives on high-speed trains and we have ensured that all our reservoirs of diesel are full," he added.

Meanwhile, a Central Control Room was set up at Rail Nilayam here, the SCR's headquarters, with senior officers manning it by turns. Also, at the divisional level, similar control rooms were functioning. Senior officers of the SCR's Electrical department are working closely with their counterparts at Vidyut Soudha, the headquarters of the APTransco.