The Railways earned crores of rupees by running special trains to clear the festive rush. But massive delays in operations because of poor monitoring of their movement and a crippled inquiry system spoiled the mood of thousands of passengers who travelled between Delhi and eastern parts of the country.
Adding to the woes of passengers, the railway enquiry number (139) kept giving wrong information even as some trains took 12 hours to even depart and 20 hours to reach destinations. Lack of pantry cars in these trains made matters worse.
"Patna-Anand Vihar (02393) Puja Special was slated to leave Patna at 8 pm on Friday but it departed 12 hours later. It reached Delhi on Sunday morning - late by 19 hours. I had to spend hours in the cold at the station thanks to a defunct inquiry system," said a passenger who travelled in coach H1 (coupe B).
"Forget about the train running information, even the customary announcement regretting the delay was missing," he said. Satakshi Sinha, a research assistant at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in Delhi, had a similar experience in the same train.
Her train on November 9 was delayed by three hours even before it left Delhi. It reached Patna nine hours behind schedule.
"The first thing I did after getting home was to cancel my return ticket on November 16 and buy a flight ticket worth Rs 7,000. The second thing I did was to cancel my elder sister's ticket in the same train and pay double the ticket's price for a tatkal reservation in Jaynagar-Anand Vihar Garib Rath on November 26, a day later than she had to leave, an extra off at work," she said.
But the problem is not confined to special trains alone. A passenger who travelled in an AC3 coach (B-2, berth-63) boarded 12487 Seemanchal Superfast Express at Katihar on November 23 said, "By the time the train reached Delhi it was delayed by five hours. There was no water in toilets floors were dirty with cockroaches found in abundance."