Kochi: Hundreds of migrant workers returning home have got stranded here as coach shortage forced cancellation of at least three key trains bound for northern states.
They were put to hardship on Monday with many standing in queues for hours together to get tatkal tickets only to learn later that the bi-weekly Ernakulam-Patna (22643) scheduled for Tuesday stands cancelled besides the one on Monday.
“Patna Express is the main train they depend on to go home. People were seen standing before the reservation counter for hours from Sunday night itself to avail tatkal tickets,” a source said.
Many succeeded in getting tatkal and premium tatkal when the bookings finally started at 9 am. However, soon came the announcement of cancellation.
By the time it came at 11.30 am, the tatkal bookings were over. Had the railways announced the cancellation by 9 am, they could have been saved off from the difficulty.
The railways later informed passengers that besides the Ernakulam-Patna Express, the Ernakulam-Howrah Antyodaya Weekly Express of Tuesday was also cancelled, leaving them almost no direct travelling options in the next few days.
A large number of migrants were seen arriving at the station without knowing about the cancellations forcing the authorities to air announcements at regular intervals.
“We’re forced to cancel trains due to unavailability of rakes. While the rail traffic was restored post-cyclone ‘Fani’ the rakes stranded there are yet to be brought back. It will take a couple of more days for the situation to get normal,” a senior railway official said.
Meanwhile, the railway passenger associations have demanded measures to help the stranded passengers.
“The Railways should start special Antyodaya trains (all unreserved coaches) instead of Suvidha (fares based on demand pattern) to meet the heavy rush,” said P. Krishnakumar, general secretary, Thrissur Railway Passengers Association....