All forms of mass transport in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh came to a halt on Saturday after dozens of trains were cancelled or diverted on the heels of a six-day strike by employees of the State-run Road Transport Corporation.
Trains will not run on Sunday too as the South Central Railway (SCR) decided to cancel the services in the wake of the two-day ‘rail roko' called by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (T-JAC) in support of its demand for a separate State. Petrol bunks, liquor shops and other establishments also remained closed as part of the general strike, which began September 13.
Many passengers, unaware of the ‘rail roko,' were stranded at railway stations, where their trains were part-terminated, and found to their dismay that even buses were not available. The impact of the strike was felt in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati, where fewer trains were operated.
As many as 41 express trains were cancelled, one train was re-scheduled, 28 were diverted and 43 either partially cancelled or part-terminated. They included all trains originating from or terminating in Telangana or passing through the region and long-distance trains plying in the North-South and East-West corridors of the country.
Commuters travelling to software companies in the HI-TEC City and Madhapur here faced hardship as the Multi-Modal Transport System (MMTS) operating in the Twin Cities and suburban areas were suspended.
The Secunderabad and Hyderabad railway stations wore a deserted look, barring the presence of large contingents of police and sanitation staff, the latter using the opportunity to clean up platforms. Auto-rickshaws in the State capital and in the Telangana region have been off the roads since midnight on Friday night.
Activists of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the Bharatiya Janata Party and other political parties squatted on the rail track at several places. At the Moula Ali station near Secunderabad, they erected a stage and a tent right on the tracks, while in some other places they played ‘kabaddi' on the platform. Eight goods trains, including two carrying fertilizers and one ferrying rice, were stopped in different places.
The SCR said it incurred a revenue loss of Rs. 12.63 crore till Saturday. It lost Rs. 9 crore due to non-operation of goods trains on September 23 and 24, while Rs. 3.63 crore was refunded to 2.90 lakh passengers following cancellation of trains.