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Saturday, April 30, 2011

the late running of Rockfort Express and other trains in Tamilnadu

Train No. 16178 Rockfort Express scheduled to arrive at Chennai Egmore @ 05.30 am is late by more than 8 hours.  The common refrain from all quarters is – trains always run late and the conditions are horrible – nobody cares ! How often we pass judgment without trying to understand the real thing !! 

In Chennai, Tamilnadu, the Sun is scorching hot and the sweltering heat is oppressive.  Today it is reported to be 34 °C – described as ‘extremely hot’.  The weather in Trichy is given as 38 °C (with a comment that Feels Like 44 °C ].  Yesterday was hotter.

As you would surely know, Indian Railways is  a multi-gauge, multi-traction system covering over 1 lakh track kilometres, more than 7000 stations, 300 yards, 2300 goodsheds and 700 repair shops. Its rolling stock fleet includes 8300 locomotives, 39,000 coaching vehicles and 3.5 lakh freight wagons. Its work force is 1.65 million and it runs some 11,000 trains everyday, including 7,000 passenger trains. The lines traverse the vast country and carry over 25 million passengers  and 2.5 million tons of freight daily.  The network established in 1853 is certainly one of the most efficiently run organization, though passengers often complain of delay, improper maintenance and lack of customer service.  
The Rockfort Express (16178/16177) is one of the  the most popular night express trains and connects Trichy and Chennai Egmore in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and extends till Kumbakonam. The train numbered 16178 departs from Kumbakonam at 19:55 Hours and reaches Trichy at 21:55 Hours as a link Express. From Trichy it departs as an Express by 22:20 hours and reaches Chennai Egmore at 5:30 the next day. The parallel train numbered 16177 starts around 22:30 Hours from Chennai Egmore and reaches Trichy around 05:30 hours the next day.

The train derives its name from the famous 12th century fortress Rockfort temple in the heart of Tiruchirapally and originally ran between Chennai and Trichy in the chord line. 
Yesterday night there were very heavy rains in the peak of summer, coupled with gale winds which uprooted many posts and disrupted the service due to snapping of electrical lines.  This forced stoppage of many trains stranding thousands of passengers.  Many trains were diverted on alternate routes. 

The winds brought down many trees and electric poles – darkness descended in the neighbourhood of Trichy as electric current was disrupted.  The Lalgudi Kattur line was severely affected – due to this man trains were diverted through the Mayavaram (Mayiladuthurai) line and had to travel hundreds of extra kilometers.

The Rockfort Express was caught in the affected line and could not move.  The Railways were quick to react and arranged for a diesel Engine to be sent which reached the place and chugged the train towards its destination.  It was clearly a good, smartly orchestrated move by the Southern Railways.  The train which was to reach Villupuram around 2.23 am reached the place around 11 am in the morning.   Mangalore Express was late by 4 hours – trains departing from Chennai including Kanyakumari Express, Nellai Express, Muthunagar, Guruvayoor, Pothigai were all disrupted and were running late. 

Regards – S. Sampathkumar. 

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