In Games host city, one rainfall stalls trains

By Jaideep Sarin,IANS,

New Delhi : ‘Experience Our Service’ – the Indian Railways slogan became a nightmare for hundreds of passengers coming here from Punjab, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday as several trains got stuck after entering Delhi – the host city for the country’s showpiece 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG).

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Express trains, including the Shatabdi Express from Kalka-Chandigarh, were stranded just two kilometres short of the Subzi Mandi station after a portion of the railway track got submerged in water following a downpour Wednesday morning – the seventh consecutive day of rains in Delhi.

To make matters worse, railway officials and train staff had little to offer in terms of information about when the trains would leave for their final destination – the New Delhi station – located less than 10 km away.

“I have walked up to a distance of two kilometers and three trains are lined up before us. The water has submerged the tracks,” the train supervisor of the Chandigarh-Delhi Shatabdi said, wiping sweat off his brow.

“You can take the risk of walking along the track and then taking a rickshaw or auto-rickshaw to get to your destination in Delhi. I don’t see this train leaving for the next two to three hours,” the officer told IANS.

Passengers in the Shatabdi Express coaches were left in the lurch, not knowing whether they should risk the walk or keep sitting in the train and wait for the water to recede.

Stepping out of the train meant landing in the middle of the tracks lined with excreta, tonnes of smelly garbage and stagnant water even as pigs made merry in the mess all around.

Certainly, the sight was miles from the “CWG-ready dream city” that Delhi’s Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit promised during the closing ceremony of the last Games in Melbourne, Australia.

At least three to four MPs heading for Delhi on the Shatabdi Express from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to attend the parliament session started calling up different people.

After a while, two of them, B.S. Bhunder of the Akali Dal and Santosh Chaudhary of the Congress, picked up their bags and disembarked from their executive class coach. The MPs could be seen walking on the tracks and seeking directions from locals regarding the way out.

Other passengers, especially those travelling with luggage, were forced to remain in the train.

“The railway officials have no information to offer in such a situation. The minimum that is expected from them is to properly guide passengers who are stranded for no fault of theirs,” Chandigarh-based industrialist and leading educationist H.S. Mamik told IANS before alighting from the Executive Class (E-2) coach of the train himself and trying to find other modes to reach New Delhi.

Ahead of the Shatabdi Express, the Jhelum Express from Jammu and one other train were stranded on the tracks with hundreds of passengers on board.

Railway officials in Delhi and Ambala divisions said they were helpless as the tracks were submerged.

“Trains from and to Delhi have been affected due to water on the tracks. That has happened in Delhi area,” G.M. Singh, commercial manager-northern railways at Ambala, told IANS.