‘Bengal accounts for over half the Railway losses’
Should Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress come to power in 2011, the party will have its task cut out, ensuring unhindered passage to trains throughout the state. Currently, of the massive Rs 1,500 crore revenue loss to the Railways, Bengal alone accounts for over Rs 800 crore, say sources.
Statistics of rail roko, agitations on tracks and last year's track "sabotage" that resulted in at least one major accident — the Jnaneswari disaster that killed 148 — and numerous other disruptions including of the Rajdhani Express, reflect adversely on the state.
The suspension of night trains — goods trains and passenger trains — still continues in the South Eastern Railway's Kharagpur-Tatanagar section.
A senior Railways official said: "A major amount of the loss was for not having the goods trains running in the South-Eastern division. After the Jnaneswari incident, all passenger trains and goods trains at night were suspended. It accounts for around 60 to 70 per cent revenue loss."
Vineet Goyal, GM, South-Eastern Zonal Railways, said: "The losses due to the suspension of rail traffic at night and blockades are still being computed, but it is expected that the figure will run into crores."
At present, 10 pairs of passenger trains were rescheduled at the Khargapur-Tata, Kharagpur-Adra and Chakradharpur-Rourkela sections, three trains were regulated to avoid the affected section at night, two pairs of passenger trains were cancelled, four trains were diverted and two trains were using an alternate route to avoid the night operations ban. The arrangements remained the same for nine months since the Jnaneswari accident.
A K Singh, Chief Security Commissioner, South-Eastern zone said: "We are yet to see hope about the resumption of night services. The last meeting between the state government and the Railways was held in January. Maintaining law and order is a state subject and for the security of rail tracks we have to depend on the state. The state has asked for 25 companies of Central forces to patrol the affected sections at night. We have forwarded the demand to the Railway Board and the Union Home Ministry but are yet to get any response."