About 5,000 passengers who were left stranded in Chennai due to the cancellation on consecutive days of at least six Kolkata-bound trains because of rains in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, packed themselves into two passenger special trains that left here on Monday.
According to Southern Railway officials, the two special trains with near identical rake composition – one first AC-cum- two AC-2 tier, three AC 3-tier, 12 sleeper class and three general second class coaches – were operated from Chennai Central to Howrah for the benefit of the stranded families heading home for Diwali celebrations.
The first train to Howrah left Chennai Central at 12.30 a.m. along a diverted route and the second at 6 p.m. along the regular route of Gudur-Vijayawada-Vishakapatnam-Srikakulam Road-Bhubaneswar- Kharagpur-Santragachi. Neither train had advance reservation and tickets had to be obtained through the Passenger Reservation System.
“All the compartments on both trains were filled beyond capacity,” a Southern Railway official said.
Earlier, Southern Railway had cancelled a slew of services passing through Andhra Pradesh and Odisha towards Kolkata and Puri. Along with the Howrah Mail and the Coromandal Express trains of Saturday and Sunday from Chennai, the Chennai-Santragachi express scheduled to leave at 7.50 a.m. was also cancelled.
To compound matters, the Chennai Central – Puri Express scheduled to leave Chennai Central at 4.20 p.m. on Monday was cancelled due to the cancellation of the pairing train No 22859 Puri – Chennai Central Express.
Among the trains to Kolkata not passing through Chennai Central, the No.12659 Nagercoil – Shalimar Gurudev Express scheduled for Saturday had also been cancelled.
Meanwhile, the Railways has opened two helplines (044 25350710/25357398) for passengers seeking movement of trains on account of the continuing cancellation/diversion/rescheduling of train services due to the rains in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.