Bug menace in an air-conditioned coach held up the Mannarkudi—Egmore Express train for about two hours at the Villupuram junction in the early hours on Saturday.

After a halt from 2.45 a.m. to 3.15 a.m., when the train pulled out of the junction, some passengers in the air-conditioned coach pulled the alarm chain.

The train came to a sudden halt and when railway officials made enquiries, the passengers told them that they were facing the menace of bugs in their beds since the train left Mannargudi.

The passengers said their children and family members in the compartment could not sleep because of the bugs.

En route the passengers informed the station masters at different stations about the problem, but were told to report the matter at the Villupuram junction and seek remedial steps.

The angry passengers also urged the officials to replace the bug-infested coach with a clean one.

The officials told the passengers that it would take nearly four hours for an alternative coach to reach the Villupuram junction.

Therefore, as a way out, the officials offered to change all the 40 bed-rolls in that coach. As the train was already running two hours behind schedule, the passengers reluctantly agreed to it.

Moreover, people travelling in the regular and general compartments were dismayed over the undue delay in the departure of the train. They turned vociferous alleging “certain upper class people were unduly holding up the train for their comfort and convenience.”

The train later resumed its journey at 4.45 a.m. Southern Railway sources told The Hindu that it was the first case of bug menace reported this year [2014]. Last year there was no such complaint.

Usually, whenever bugs were seen in small numbers, the officials would spray pesticides in the coach concerned.

But in this case, as there were several children, the officials desisted from spraying pesticide.

“Since the Villupuram junction is a major transit point, it is always equipped with additional bed-rolls that have come in handy to pacify the agitated passengers,” the sources said.

Usually, rakes of all the trains would be fumigated in Chennai according to a well-drawn schedule. In certain cases, there would be change of un-fumigated rakes or coaches in a particular train that could spring a menacing surprise to passengers.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National