A Packed Railway schedule since May 1 — 2,600 Shramik trains, around 80% bound for UP and Bihar — led to a bizarre situation where a migrant special from Mumbai, which was to reach Gorakhpur within 24 hours on Friday evening, was rerouted via Odisha, adding two days and five states to the original journey.
By Saturday evening, officials said, the train had crossed Gomoh in Jharkhand, still 600 km away from its destination, with the estimated arrival now “sometime on Sunday morning”.
The train, which left Mumbai at 7.20 pm on May 21 and was to reach Gorakhpur by May 22 evening “in normal timetable time”, is carrying its full capacity of 1,600 passengers. Several of them lashed out at the decision to reroute the train without their knowledge, and said they had been left in the lurch with no food or water.
The passengers said they came to know of the diverted route only around 6 am on Saturday after cellphone networks sent messages welcoming them to Odisha. “When the train reached Rourkela, we began panicking and got off at the station to speak to the driver,” said Santosh Gawde, 26.
“The driver asked us to talk to the administration. I began looking for contact numbers on the Internet in my mobile and called the Gorakhpur control room to tell them that the train had lost its away. That’s when we came to know about the diversion,” Gawde said.
“We got our last food packet, of khichdi, and a bottle of water in Nagpur on Friday evening. We finally got some puri and sabzi, and a bottle of water, at Gomoh after a whole day had passed,” said Manoj Kumar, another passenger.
Zonal railway officials told The Indian Express that the system is currently running more trains that it can handle on routes to eastern UP and Bihar to clear the migrant rush.
“When we run timetabled trains, the matter is different. Here, we are running 80 per cent of the trains to UP and Bihar. There were some congestion issues, but we have sorted them out,” Railway Board chairman V K Yadav said.
“As all the trains were converging to one route, some network congestion is experienced on North Central Railway & West Central Railway zones,” the Rail Ministry tweeted. An official from Western Railway said rerouting of trains would continue over the next two to three days until the line cleared up.
In this case, officials said the train was to cross Bhusawal in Maharashtra, move to Itarsi in MP, enter UP via Jhansi, and pass Kanpur before reaching Gorakhpur — a distance of 1,750 km.
Instead, they said, the train was diverted from Bhusawal to Nagpur, and onward to Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh), Rourkela (Odisha), Asansol (West Bengal), Gomoh (Jharkhand) and Gaya (Bihar). It would enter UP at Mughalsarai, and reach Gorakhpur after covering a distance of 2,400 km.
Officials in Delhi said the Goods Marshalling Canpore (GMC) yard in Kanpur, the key converging point on the route, is “full to the brim”.
“Around 34 running lines carrying huge traffic from five directions in a short span of time has choked the network,” said an official.
Officials said the congestion was also caused by delays “in boarding after various protocols by source states” and “in freeing up rakes at destinations by state authorities”. They said the trains will now be run at “slower speeds than allowed” in several sections to ease the situation.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Anil Mishra, Divisional Railway Manager (Dhanbad), said that “around 13 trains were rerouted through Gomoh, Dhanbad, Singrauli and other areas”.
“We gave food, water, chocolates and cakes to the passengers,” he said.
With Abhishek Angad in Ranchi
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines