Seven trains going to north Bengal from Calcutta turned back today after being unable to cross stretches of submerged rail tracks near Malda.
Eastern Railway officials said trains scheduled to leave for north Bengal and beyond on Monday might be either cancelled or rescheduled because of heavy rain in the region.
The Kanchanjunga Express scheduled to leave Sealdah for Silchar on Monday morning has already been cancelled. The down train was diverted to Agartala from Cooch Behar after floodwaters submerged rail tracks in Katihar.
The Darjeeling Mail, Padatik Express, Uttar Banga Express and Kanchankanya Express were stopped at stations en route to north Bengal and sent back to Calcutta. These trains had started on Saturday night.
According to a release from Eastern Railway, all trains were stopped at large stations and the authorities asked to arrange food and drinking water for the stranded passengers. But people travelling by these trains had a different version of what happened.
The Darjeeling Mail had reached Murarai station in Birbhum around 2.40am and the air-conditioning system failed soon after, several passengers told Metro. For a long time after that, there was allegedly no clarity on whether the train would be able to proceed to its destination or return to the city.
Debabrata Sarkar, a 75-year-old resident of Madhyamgram who is partially paralysed, was travelling to New Jalpaiguri with his brother Subrata Sarkar and another family member in an AC First Class coach of the Darjeeling Mail. “My elder brother being paralysed, he has to be carried to the toilet by at least two persons. You can imagine our plight after more than 10 hours on this train without food, water and air-conditioning,” Subrata said.
Around noon, the family hired an ambulance for Rs 11,000 to travel till Siliguri.
Six trains scheduled to leave between afternoon and late evening were cancelled. Only the Hate Bazare Express and Gour Express left Sealdah station at the scheduled departure time.
Tea estate employee Ashim Saha, 52, was to take the Darjeeling Mail back to Siliguri. Staring at the list of cancelled trains, he said: “I am told buses would not be able to reach Siliguri either.”
Bhabotosh Majumdar, 56, was also stranded and clueless. “I came to Calcutta to see a heart surgeon. Now I don’t know how to go back,” he said.
Anupam Saha, a government employee who wants to visit his parents, was at the station to enquire if any train might be cancelled on Monday.
Saha is to take the Uttar Banga Express en route to Haluabari, in south Tripura. “I am not sure whether I should cancel my ticket or take a chance,” he said.