Rains, flooding of Narmada force WR to cancel 24 trains
According to WR officials, the problem first began on Sunday but was restricted to the Ratlam-Godhra section in Ratlam Division. By Sunday evening, the rains continued to pound other parts of Gujarat, and gradually trains plying on the Vadodara Division got affected
Mumbai: For almost 48 hours, long-distance trains on the Mumbai-Delhi rail corridor were thrown out of gear by the incessantly heavy rain and swelling of the Narmada river at two different stretches in Gujarat. Bridge Number 502, a vital bridge between Bharuch and Ankleshwar, and the rail tracks between Amargarh and Panchpipla stations on the Ratlam-Godhra section saw dangerously surging water levels, forcing Western Railway (WR) to cancel almost two dozen trains on Sunday night.
All through the night, the trains were stranded at different locations along the Mumbai-Gujarat route, affecting trains arriving and departing from Mumbai and inconveniencing thousands of rail passengers. “Last night, my family and I boarded the Jamnagar-Mumbai Humsafar Express,” said N Pandya. “When we went to bed, it was reaching Sanand railway station. On Monday morning when we woke up hoping that the train was near Borivali, we realised that it was stranded at Sanand station for over seven hours. Thankfully, it was at the station, and the railways had made provision for food.”
The trains operating in Ahmedabad Division, Ratlam Division and Vadodara Division on WR were severely affected by the natural disaster. Railway engineers said the soil and ballast beneath the tracks had given way due to the rain. By 12.20 pm on Monday, as the rains slowed down and the water receded, the railway authorities finally got an opportunity to carry out restoration work. According to a WR spokesperson, the situation on Bridge Number 502 normalised at around 7.15 pm on Monday, and trains began to operate at permissible speeds.
According to WR officials, the problem first began on Sunday but was restricted to the Ratlam-Godhra section in Ratlam Division. By Sunday evening, the rains continued to pound other parts of Gujarat, and gradually trains plying on the Vadodara Division got affected.
WR authorities cancelled around 24 trains and diverted and short-terminated several others which were running eight to ten hours late. After heavy rainfall in the catchment areas and the release of water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam, eight trains that connect Vadodara to Ekta Nagar, the site of the Statue of Unity, were cancelled for a day. Apart from this, almost 24 trains were cancelled, which included the Mumbai-Gandhinagar Vande Bharat, Mumbai-Ahmedabad Tejas Express and Shatabdi Express. More than 25,000 passengers were affected due to cancellation of trains, diversions and delays.
“We were operating a single line on the Ratlam-Godhra section to ensure movement of trains,” said Sumit Thakur, Chief PRO, Western Railway. “Senior railway officials were present at the sites to monitor work on restoration of the rail lines on a war footing.”
Over 500 workers were posted at the restoration sites. Heavy equipment, JCB machines, cranes and dumpers were arranged from Ratlam, Godhra and other stations. Sources said that due to the rains, the mud and soil underneath the tracks had slipped away. Getting soil, rocks and ballast to the site was a challenge, which made the restoration work even more difficult.
Meanwhile, Western Railway set up helpline numbers to assist passengers in getting train-related information. However, passengers on social media complained that these numbers were constantly engaged or were not reachable.
WR officials said they tried their best to provide whatever help was possible by accommodating the passengers in special buses operating from cities in Gujarat and even providing food and water. On September 18 alone, the WR authorities catered to more than 20,000-plus stranded passengers, who were provided with around 18,500 packs of drinking water, 17,000 breakfast packets, thousands of biscuit packets and bananas, and 7,300 cups of tea.