Residents call for restoration of passenger train services

Japur: Hundreds of local residents on Sunday demanded the restoration of passenger train service to Jajpur, which was previously halted following the Covid-19 outbreak some two years ago.

Even though the Covid-19 situation has already normalized in the state, essential train service must be restored immediately.

“Passenger trains are mainly used by poor and middle class commuters across Odisha as an economical mode of transport. However, the service has not yet been restored, causing problems for short-distance travel,” many residents said.

The daily number of coronavirus cases in the state has dropped below 100, previously imposed Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, tourist destinations, markets, offices, educational institutions and religious places in Jajpur were also opened, residents said.

Read also : Odisha records 45 new cases of Covid-19; eight under 18

Even to that extent, the three-tier rural polls are over and elections to urban local bodies (ULB) are underway. But, it is strange that passenger train service has not normalized, locals lamented.

Most express trains passing through Cuttack station are operated as special trains, excluding passenger trains. Similarly, the Talcher-Puri MEMU (passenger train), which has been at a standstill since March 2020, is awaiting the green light from the railway authorities to run.

Jajpur commuters were able to travel from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar on passenger trains for their personal works, paying only Rs 10. Likewise, they paid 20 rupees for Puri, locals added.

A number of people were traveling to Cuttack every day on passenger trains from Jajpur district to go to Orissa High Court, Odisha Police DG Office, SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH ), National Law University, Ravenshaw University, etc.

Several residents of Jajpur also travel to the capital to join the Lok Seva Bhawan (secretariat), Utkal University and many others.

Local residents who have raised their voices to demand restoration of passenger train service include people namely Purnachandra Das, Ashutosh Kar from Jajpur-Keonjhar Road locality and Ramchandra Pratap, Nirmal Sahu and Bijaya Kumar Khandayi from Haridaspur all belonging to a local outfit named ‘Rail Yatri Sangh’.

In particular, the inhabitants of the regions of Talcher and Dhenkanal traveled daily to the Twin Cities. Commuters from Cuttack traveled to Bhubaneswar, Puri and Khurda on passenger trains. It used to be very convenient to go home in the evening.

Passenger train service has been restored in many other states falling under a total of 17 rail zones in the country.

Some of the temporarily canceled major passenger trains running through Cuttack and Bhubaneswar include: Bhadrak-Bhubaneswar MEMU, Bhadrak-Cuttack MEMU, Paradip-Cuttack MEMU, Cuttack-Ichhapuram MEMU, Bhubaneswar-Berhampur MEMU, Khurda Road-Kharagpur Fast Passenger and Santragachi-Passenger from Puri.

Up to four pairs of passenger trains previously ran between Paradip and Cuttack daily, before the Covid-19 outbreak and only one train is running now.

Apparently, a few MEMU trains running these days are charging higher fares than before, following a recent popular unrest.

It is said that the railway authorities have these days charged three times fairer prices than the usual prices, under the pretext of special trains. Commuters previously paid Rs 10 to travel on a MEMU train from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar.

NPN

Jose P. Rogers