Bad news for tourists stranded in different parts of Odisha. East Coast Railway on Saturday said all trains between Howrah and Visakhapatnam had been cancelled on Sunday.

“All trains between Howrah and Visakhapatnam have been cancelled on Saturday. In continuation and on review of the situation, it has been further decided by East Coast Railway to cancel all mail, express and passenger trains as well as special trains on October 13 (Sunday),” ECoR spokesperson said.

He said this had been done keeping in mind the safety of the passengers. “The reports from Meteorological Department indicate a very severe cyclonic storm and East Coast Railway would not like to leave anything to chance.”

An ECoR statement stated the Crisis Management Group (CGM) of East Coast Railway had been regularly taking stock of the situation. “Railway Emergency Teams have been stationed in advance with adequate men and materials at 25 stations considered to be most likely to be affected,” it said.

In case of any damage to railway tracks, signaling and over head wires, the repair works could be done at the spot by the Emergency Team itself. In addition, relief trains and diesel engines have been kept as stand-by to meet any eventuality.

About, 700 stranded passengers at Puri had been accommodated at Railway Kalyan Mandap near Puri Railway Station.

Agencies further report:

With cyclone Phailin set to hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coasts on Saturday evening, the Railways have cancelled all trains between Howrah and Visakhapatnam as a precautionary measure.

While it had announced to cancel some passenger trains on Friday, Railways decided to suspend movement of all trains on Saturday in view of the cyclone.

“All trains between Howrah and Visakhapatnam will remain suspended on Saturday and are also likely to remain suspended on Sunday,” a senior East Coast Railway official said.

The trains which have been cancelled include Bhubaneswar-Visakhapatnam Intercity Express, Bhubaneswar-Tirupathy S/F Express, Bhubaneswar-Secunderabad Visakha Express, Guntur-Visakhapatnam-Guntur Simhadri Express, Howrah-Bhubaneswar Janshatabdi Express, Howrah-Puri Shatabdi Express and Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express.

While, Yesvantpur-Bhubaneswar Prasanti Express and Secunderabad-Bhubaneswar Visakha Express have been short terminated at Vishakapatnam.

The railway administration has also decided to divert the routes of several other trains running between Howrah and Chennai.

Two trains which have been diverted via Vizianagaram and Jharsuguda are Tiruchirapalli-Howrah and Chennai-Howrah Mail.

The trains diverted via Chakradharpur and Bilaspur are Howrah-Chennai Falaknuma Express, Howrah-Yashvantpur Duronto Express, Haldia-Chennai S/F Express, Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express.

Guwahati-Trivandrum Express has been diverted via Vizianagaram and Jharsuguda, they said.

Cyclonic storm Phailin is currently positioned just 260 km off the coast of Gopalpur in Odisha, which is likely to be epicentre of the storm.

Road traffic disrupted

The panic triggered by impending onslaught of Cyclone ‘Phailin’ in coastal areas of Odisha has crippled all vehicular movement on National Highway 5 which connects the state capital to Gopalpur, the projected landfall site.

Multi-wheel trucks and other four-wheel vehicles could be seen lined up along the highway as all movement towards the cyclone area has been restricted by the state administration.

’Dhabas’, small hotels and other business spots along this vital road have been shut fearing nature’s fury.

The NH-5 connects Chennai with Kolkata.

“We are camping here since on Friday as the weather has gone bad.We want to cross over the Gopalpur, Chhattarpur area as soon as the cyclone effect is gone,” T Ravi, a truck driver from Tamil Nadu told PTI.

Ravi and few other trucks were moving with goods from Vizag to Kolkata when they decided to halt near Rambha village.

In the state capital, the air is abuzz with talk of the cyclone and hence business establishments are reluctant to open.

“Normal business has been hit as everyone is skeptical as to what would happen...will there be any damage.Cancellation of trains and buses towards coastal areas of the state have surely hit the movement of commuters,” Suvendu Mohanty, who runs a travel agency in Bhubaneshwar, said.

“All eyes are glued on TV sets to know the latest developments related to Phailin.Such a situation of tension and panic arising out of a natural fury has come to Odisha after a very long time,” Basanta Dash, a local government official, said.

The city has been receiving light to heavy rainfall since the last few days.

The district administration has also stopped movement of villagers in this area towards Gopalpur.

South Central Railway has set up helpline numbers at Secunderabad (040—27700868) and Hyderabad (040—23200865) railway stations to provide information to passengers regarding movement of trains.

Helplines were also set up at Vijayawada (0866—2575038), Rajahmundry (0883—2420541, 2420543), Kazipet (0870—2548660), Warangal (0870—2426232), Khammam (08742—256025), Tuni (08854—252172), Anakapalle (08924—221698), Guntur (0863—2222014, 09701379072), Nandyal (07702772080), Nalgonda (08682—224392, 09701379077), Narsaraopeta (08647—223131, 09701379075), Markapur (08596—222028, 09701379079), Giddalur (08405—242003), Sattanapalle (08641—232255), Piduguralla (08649—252255), Nadikude (08649—257625, 09701379078) and Manchiryal (08736—250081)railway stations.