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Emotions power Deccan Queen?s run after riots

"It is one of the few trains commanding the same glory and respect,? says a die-hard fan, reports Rajendra Aklekar.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2006 21:48 IST

Whenever Prakash Kumar, a bank executive, sees the Deccan Queen pass by, he stops in his way till the entire train zooms past. It’s his way of paying respect to the Queen of the Deccan.

“How can I walk when the Queen is passing by?It is one of the few prestigious trains that the British had begun and still commands the same glory and respect,” says Kumar, a die-hard fan of Indian Railways.

Among such respect and emotions, the 2123 Deccan Queen Express set out on its three hour, 15 minute journey to Pune precisely at 5:10 pm from CST’s platform number 12, after a gap of three days following the burning of seven coaches of the train at Ulhasnagar on Thursday.

A pooja was performed and a few garlands and incense sticks tucked onto the powerful dual-powered electric locomotive that was to drive the 16-car train.

“We have maintained the train like our family member and we wept on the day the train was set ablaze. This is the first time that this train was treated like this,” says Raj Ratan Bhalerao’s the Deccan Queen’s technical keeper.

"We are happy that the 76-year-old train is back in action and are proud to take it back to the state’s cultural capital," shouted DJ Gangurde and Ashok Rathod, the train’s drivers, at the top of their voice amid the engine’s roar.

“I was on the train when the incident occurred and we went back to Pune from Karjat that day. Thankfully it was a weekend and we did not miss office, says Prakash Sankpal secretary of Mumbai-Pune Passenger Association and a season ticket holder, who has been traveling on the train for the past 12 years. Sankpal works in Mumbai and resides in Pune.

Hemant Tapale, another season ticket holder, who runs an advertising agency in Ghatkopar and resides in Pune says, “We were very sad that the mob vented out their ire on this train. We respect their feelings, but targeting public property like this is not correct.”

"The damage the train was extensive. Seven coaches were damaged and glass panes of the AC compartment were smashed too. But a team of 50 people from mechanical and electrical departments worked throughout the night on the weekend at the coaching dept at Wadbunder and prepared the 16-car train to its original standard and glory.

"The train was then sent to Pune on Sunday and it resumed journey on Monday morning. All this in a period of three days," Sunil Jain, CR’s chief public relations officer told HT.

21 local services cancelled

Twenty-one local train services of the daily 1,228 have been cancelled till further notice due to damage to six compartments of two local trains. Six to seven services during morning and evening peak hours have also been cancelled.
"Commuters will have to bear with the railways till the damaged coaches are repaired,” a senior CR official said.

First Published: Dec 04, 2006 21:48 IST