Passengers complained that there was no proper information from the railway authorities; many were stuck at the Madurai station for hours
In a major disruption of train services, 16 express trains on the Chennai – Virudhunagar section suffered delays of upto 10 hours on Wednesday, following a technical glitch in the advanced signalling system in the double-line section between Tirumangalam and Thulukkapatti railway stations on Tuesday night.
A major complaint among the passengers was the lack of proper information from railway authorities about the actual time of departure, which, if available, could have helped them take alternative modes of transport, they said.
After Commissioner of Railway Safety cleared the second line on the Tirumangalam-Thulukkapatti stretch after completing his inspection on March 20, the work of integrating the first and second line and introducing a new signalling system in Thulukkapatti yard, Virudhunagar yard amd Kalligudi yard was on in between stations.
The work was scheduled to be completed by 6 p.m. However, all of it could not be carried out on time. “The signalling system failed after the electronic signal was replaced with a computer-based signal system and trains could not be operated on time because the old signalling system had been removed,” a railway spokesperson said.
After multiple attempts failed, the officials started to operate trains with caution around 4 a.m. As a result, the Kollam – Chennai Egmore Express suffered a delay of 10 hours. Similarly, the Chennai Egmore-bound Sengottai Express suffered a delay of 7.5 hours.
Several trains that were proceeding towards Chennai like Chenthur Express, Kanniyakumari Express and Pearl City, were detained at different stations up to Vanchi Maniyachchi railway station on the Virudhunagar – Tirunelveli section. Similarly, down trains like Kanniyakumari Express, Coimbatore – Nagercoil Express, Chenthur Express and Pearl City, were also delayed.
A passenger who was travelling to Rajapalayam from Chennai, T. Chitravel (34) complained that his train was detained for more than four hours at Madurai. “Neither was there any announcement about train service resumption nor was there any response on the railway enquiry phone line,” he said. Another passenger V. Nagaraj (32) said that if they got information about the delays, he could have opted for a bus journey up to Rajapalayam.
A group of girl students from a private college in Madurai, who were proceeding to Tenkasi were forced to spend seven hours at Madurai railway station. “We came to the station at 3 a.m. after having booked the tickets two days back. We preferred a train journey as it takes only two hours to reach Tenkasi while the bus takes four hours,” said Ashmitha, one of the students.
The family of Kader Hussain, another passenger, also suffered on the railway platform due to the inordinate delay. “My little daughters are unwell on long-distance bus journeys, hence we planned to travel by train to attend a wedding in Rajapalayam,” he said.