The worst fears of commuters came to fruition on Saturday with the decision of cancellation of 22 trains passing or originating from Chandigarh (twice a week) coming into effect from Saturday with all 34 Volvo buses departing from Sector 17 to Delhi running overcrowded and private taxi drivers resorting to making a quick buck. Distressed passengers are paying between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,500 for a one-way trip to Delhi, almost double the Rs 2,500 in normal days.
Even as early as 5:30am, long queues were seen at ticket counters at the bus stand with some taking a seat on Haryana Roadways buses, which was charging Rs 220 a ticket against the Volvo’s around Rs 5,00.
Passengers, however, claim the comfort factor is missing, for no fault of theirs.
Namrita Kapur, who runs a private business and travels to Delhi every 10 days, says, “With the Kalka Shatabdi also being cancelled, a very convenient option has been withdrawn for travellers. When the weather is fine, how can train service be suspended. Now, I am paying double for half the comfort.”
Sukhpal Kaur, another passenger, said, “I had got reservation on the Chandigarh-Lucknow train, two months ago. With the train on the list of cancelled ones, I had to board a bus.”
Another city resident, Krita Mukherjee said, “Travelling by bus is very time-consuming and is uncomfortable too with people forced to stand all along the route.”
Private bus operators, though, are not complaining. Amrit Pal Singh, of Bedi Travel Agents, Chandigarh, told HT, “Our buses which usually run with very few passengers are running packed, especially on the weekends when families travel. We are happy to help and are arranging special cabs. Majority of the rush is between Chandigarh and Delhi and we selling a bus ticket for Rs 1,100.”
A total of 10 trains from Chandigarh that will be cancelled twice a week include Lucknow-Chandigarh (12231)- Monday and Thursday; Chandigarh-Amritsar -(12241)- only Tuesday; Chandigarh-Amritsar (12411) and Amritsar-Chandigarh (12412)- only Friday; Lucknow-Chandigarh (15011) -Wednesday and Friday; Chandigarh-Allahbad (14218) -Tuesday and Friday ; Allahbad-Chandigarh (14217) - Wednesday and Friday; Chandigarh-Lucknow (12232) - Thursday and Saturday; Amritsar-Chandigarh (12242) - Wednesday; and Chandigarh-Lucknow(15012) - Wednesday and Saturday.
Other trains to be cancelled twice a week include five Shatabdi Express trains - 12005(Monday/Wednesday), 12011 (Tuesday/Sunday), 12012 (Tuesday/Sunday), 12046 (Thursday) and 12045(Thursday).