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Old coaches greet passengers of newly-launched Visakhapatnam-Banaras biweekly express

November 30, 2023 08:51 pm | Updated 08:51 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

The absence of a pantry car further added to the misery of the passengers, who had to make do with outside food sold by hawkers at some stations along the route

Some of the coaches attached to the train were shabby, complained passengers. | Photo Credit: V. RAJU

Passengers travelling by the Visakhapatnam-Banaras biweekly express on November 29 (Wednesday) were a disheartened lot after finding out that railway authorities had replaced the brand new coaches allocated to the with old ones. Shabby coaches and torn seats greeted the passengers going from Visakhapatnam to Banaras, with the absence of a pantry car further adding to their misery.

Train 18311 Visakhapatnam-Banaras Express, launched on November 22, leaves Visakhapatnam at 4.20 a.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays, and reaches Banaras at 9.25 a.m. on the next day.

In the return direction, 18312 Banaras-Visakhapatnam Express, leaves Banaras at 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Mondays, and arrives in Visakhapatnam at 7.30 p.m. on the next day.

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Many seats were either torn or damaged on the train, complained several passengers. | Photo Credit: V. RAJU

Train no. 18312, which arrived in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday (November 28) night was in bad shape with some of the new LHB coaches, replaced with visibly old and dirty coaches. Both the exteriors and interiors of some of the coaches were dirty and some of the seats were torn and stitched up. The same rake was used on the next day to Banaras.

A Youtuber who travelled by the train gave a detailed account of his travails during the nearly 30-hour journey from Visakhapatnam junction to Banaras. “Some of the coaches looked old and dirty. There is no pantry car on the train and I had to go without meals during the entire journey.”

“Though the train stopped at many stations, there are no meals except for idly and vada, which was packed and sold by hawkers at some stations. The quality was bad but I was compelled to eat it as there was no other alternative. The next morning, I suffered a stomach upset,” he says.

The Visakhapatnam-New Delhi Samata Express, which used to leave at 6.25 a.m., is now leaving at 9.25 a.m. This slot can be used for the Visakhapatnam–Banaras express as passengers coming to the railway station from far-off places in the city like Madhurawada and Gajuwaka now have to leave their homes in the wee hours of the morning to catch the train. The speed can also be increased as the special train operated on this route used to take only 24 hours, say rail activists.

They are also demanding stoppage of the train at Simhachalam railway station as it is an important pilgrimage centre, and the train should be made a daily train as it has a huge wait list (WL).

“I am not aware that the coaches have been replaced and I will look into it. I agree that the long-distance train should have a pantry car, and I will take up the issue with the zonal authorities,” Divisional Railway Manager Saurabh Prasad told The Hindu.

He also agreed to take up other demands of the rail users like speeding up the train, provision of a halt and increasing the frequency with the zonal headquarters in Bhubaneswar.

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