Derailment of the Indore –Patna Express on Sunday that claimed 150 lives failed to prevent passengers from cramping the train as it made another voyage to the Bihar capital from here on Wednesday.
The bi-weekly train runs between Indore and Patna on Saturday and Wednesday. It departed from Indore at 2 pm and will reach Rajendra Nagar (Patna) at 5.05 pm on the next day.
All four general coaches of the express train were jam packed with hardly any seat left unoccupied while many, holding waiting tickets for AC and sleeper classes, were seen traveling sitting on the floor when the locomotive chugged out of the station at 2pm.
Passengers are however not undertaking the journey, 84 hours after the mishap, with a sense of security. Concerns were also writ large on the faces of relatives and friends who came to see off their dear and near ones.
“Hum Log to Khuda ke Bharose Jaa rahe hai (We are making the journey leaving our fate to God),” Sakina Sheikh said. The remark of the 29-year-old Indore resident suitably captured the general mood. She is travelling to Patna with five of her family members.
“We have no other option but to travel in this manner in overcrowded compartments as this is the only train that connects Indore to Patna and major cities of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” she added.
“Accident can happen anytime, anywhere. But still railways remain a comparatively safer mode of communication for us,” she said.
The express train has total capacity of carrying around 1560 passengers-- 864 in sleeper coaches, 256 in AC and nearly 440 in four general and two seating-cum-luggage rakes (SLR). But often passengers beyond the capacity board the train.
Even on Wednesday, before the empty rake arrived at platform 45 minutes before departure there were long queues of people waiting to board the train in the general bogie. Number of passengers was more than what the coaches could accommodate.
Even railway officials admit that general bogies of the train are often overcrowded.
“Ninety persons can be accommodated in a general bogie of the train, but most of the times passengers surpass the number of seats,” said a railway official who was assisting people to get board the train at the Indore railway station.
The railway official claimed that passenger pressure is generally more on Wednesdays when the train goes via Lalitpur and Sultanpur as the route has more important destinations.
“To meet the demand we normally install some extra coaches, even on last Saturday we had put extra AC coaches in the train. But at times even that becomes inadequate to meet the demand,” the official said.
When contacted, Western Railways’ senior public relation officer Jitendra Kumar Jayant said, “The Indore – Patna Express departed on scheduled time after all safety and maintenance clearance.”
“There is still a waiting list of 64 passengers in sleeper coaches. From this you can easily say that there is no worry or fear among the passengers as they still trust Indian railways,” he claimed.