भुवनेश्वर Bhubaneshwar (BBS): In October 2013, when cyclone Phailin struck, the East Coast Railway (ECR) decided to cancel trains 24 hours in advance and informed passengers accordingly. Exactly a year later, when Hudhud hit, the Bhubaneswar-headquartered ECoR and Secunderabad-headquartered SCR decided to cancel trains 48 hours in advance and inform passengers.
This was one of the basic step that the ECoR and SCR followed for managing disasters and minimising the inconvenience caused to passengers. “Earlier, internally (among Railway officials) there was hesitation on canceling trains. However, there is a change in attitude toward canceling trains in such a scenario. Last year, despite informing in advance, some people turned up at the railway stations,” said J.P. Mishra, spokesperson of East Coast Railway. After that experience, the ECoR now decided to put in place a feedback mechanism and capture these in a checklist format for its officials to bank upon while dealing with disasters, such as cyclones.
The ECoR will now share these lessons with the Vadodara-based National Academy of India Railways, said Mishra.
Mishra said, these lessons, many of which were small, were added to the Indian Railways’ disaster management manual, which was complied in 2011. Various divisions asked to make purchases, such as water storage tanks, lamps, polythene sheets about 60 hours before the cyclone landfall was expected. Also, satellite phones, equipment to fix any problems in tracks, overhead wires, were put in locations that were expected to be affected. Fully fuelled vehicles were also provided to station masters at key locations.
To handle water logging, wagons built with cinders (jute bags with powdered stones), boulders and saw dust were ready at 10 stations. Equipment to measure wind speed was also deployed across stations. The train tracks between Visakhapatnam-Bhubaneswar were vacated six hours before Hudhud hit the location. Power car, powerful generators and safety equipments can keep a station running, were shifted from Sambalpur in Western Odisha to Berhampur in Southern Odisha. Moreover, the officials were in constant touch with Railway officials in Andhra Pradesh and were also tracking Odiya and Telugu TV channels.
Within two days after Hudhud cyclone hit the East Coast Railway’s coastal zone, the ECR resumed normal services on Tuesday. However, anticipating some hiccups, the ECR requested passengers “to cooperate with Railways” as trains were getting delayed due to diversion and clubbing of connecting trains.