Over 700 trains affected in four days; passengers harried - Hindustan Times
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Over 700 trains affected in four days; passengers harried

By, Karnal/ferozepur/jalandhar/ Ludhiana
Apr 21, 2024 05:24 AM IST

Railways suffer ₹63 lakh loss since April 17; protesters say their stir will continue till the release of 3 farm activists arrested by Haryana Police

As many as 724 trains in the Ambala and Ferozepur divisions have been affected as farmers continued to squat on tracks at the Shambhu railway station in Punjab’s Patiala district for the fourth day, officials said.

Officials said a total of 499 trains have been cancelled, diverted or short-terminated/originated on the Ambala-Sahnewal section of the Ambala Division in the last four days. (HT Photo)
Officials said a total of 499 trains have been cancelled, diverted or short-terminated/originated on the Ambala-Sahnewal section of the Ambala Division in the last four days. (HT Photo)

Railways has refunded 63 lakh to passengers on counter tickets in both the divisions, said officials, adding that details of cancellation and refund will come once the audit is done by the end of the month.

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Ambala-Ludhiana-Amritsar route blocked

Farmers have been protesting under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) at Shambhu and began their stir on April 17 for the release of three farmers arrested by the Haryana Police by squatting on the tracks on the Ambala-Ludhiana-Amritsar route in Shambhu near the Punjab-Haryana border.

Three farmers, including Navdeep Jalbera, Gurkirat Shahpur and Anish Khatkar, were arrested during the ongoing farmers’ stir.

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the protest will continue until the three farmers are released. The farmers have been staying put at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points between Punjab and Haryana since February 13 when their “Delhi Chalo” march was stopped by the security forces.

Trains running on alternative routes

Officials said a total of 499 trains have been cancelled, diverted or short-terminated/originated on the Ambala-Sahnewal section of the Ambala Division in the last four days.

Naveen Kumar, senior divisional commercial manager, Ambala railway division, said 136 mail/express and passenger trains have been cancelled till Saturday noon. “We have diverted 230 trains via the Ambala-Chandigarh-Sanehwal route that are operating on the Ludhiana-Dhuri-Jakhal route further for Delhi. Similarly, 43 trains have been short-terminated/originated. A total of 358 mail/express and 141 passenger trains have been affected in the division,” he added.

The official said that the railway is trying to run as many trains on the diverted routes.

“Most of the major trains for Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir like the Vande Bharat, Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Malwa, Sampark Kranti and others are being run on diverted routes. There are limitations of running trains on diverted routes that impact our goods trains and there are delays in loading and deliveries of goods and parcels,” he added.

Naveen Kumar said that in the past four days, the railways have refunded 50 lakh on counter tickets, but as 80% of tickets are purchased online, cancellation details will be available later in the week.

In the Ferozepur division, a total of 225 trains, including both mail and passenger, have been affected. According to a statement issued from the office of divisional railway manager, Ferozepur division, as of Friday evening, 2,382 passengers have been refunded 13.07 lakh.

“Assessing the exact financial impact in the Ferozepur division will require a detailed analysis as this will include the cancellation of passenger trains and delays or halts in goods trains. A similar protest in October 2015 resulted in a staggering financial loss of 100 crore to the railways. Overall 550 trains have been affected during the four-day farmers’ agitation,” a senior railway official said, pleading anonymity.

Of the 225 trains as many as 70 (mail/express and passengers) have been cancelled, while 132 trains were diverted, 23 short-terminated and short-originated, revealed the official data of Ferozepur railway division.

Commuters feel the heat

Meanwhile, commuters faced a tough time and had to opt for other modes of transport to reach their destinations.

In Jalandhar, the Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express via Jalandhar has remained cancelled for the past two days, while the Vande Bharat train on the same route has been diverted to another route, taking more time to reach Delhi.

Parmod Kumar of Kapurthala said he along with a group of 15-20 people, had bookings for Shatabdi.

“We were to attend a religious event in Delhi but hearing to exorbitant prices of taxis, half of us cancelled our visit, while others boarded a Volvo bus,” he said.

Another commuter Manpreet Singh said they had cancelled their train booking and hired a private taxi to reach Delhi airport. “My parents had to board a flight to Canada on Sunday, therefore, we couldn’t take the risk of travelling via train due to farmers’ protest,” he said.

It was the same story in Ludhiana as well, where passengers were finding it hard to commute. “I travel to Chandigarh for work, and for the last three days, the Amritsar-Chandigarh intercity has been cancelled,” said a passenger.

Mohan, an migrant who had to catch a train from Delhi to his hometown in Bihar, said, “I have been waiting at the Ludhiana railway station for five hours. The train I was supposed to board was cancelled and the others are running full.”

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