Waltair Railway Division suffers Rs.50 Cr Loss due to Phailin, Torrential Rains, Agitations

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Waltair Division of the East Coast Railways (ECoR) has piled up losses of around Rs 50 crore this month due to the suspension of passenger services at various railway stations, particularly Visakhapatnam railway station, for nearly 10 days due to various factors as well as slowdown in cargo movement on its money spinner Kirandul-Kottavalasa railway line.

This includes nearly Rs 40 crore losses due to lower freight movement on the KK line and another Rs 10 crore due to passenger traffic disruptions, said railway sources. Daily about 50,000 passengers travel to various parts of the country from the division, which covers the three north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam, besides a few parts of neighbouring Odisha.

Railway officials attributed the losses to the Samaikyandhra stir by Seemandhra electricity board employees on October 7, besides the two natural calamities – Cyclone Phailin that hit north coastal AP on October 12 and the torrential rains under the influence of northeast monsoon from October 21 to 27. Due to disruptions, more than 20,000 passengers travel from Vizag alone. But many passengers could not utilize Indian Railways services for nearly 10 days due to the disruptions in train traffic due to these three key reasons this month.

Admitting to the losses, Waltair Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar said the losses would be more than Rs 10 crore just on account of disruption of passenger traffic. “I have instructed my staff to prepare a report on the losses to the division due to passenger train disruptions. In terms of freight traffic, though the division did not face any track damages, particularly on the Kirandul-Kottavalasa railway line like it did last year due to Cyclone Nilam, it suffered losses on the KK line due to lack of cargo movement during the torrential rains as no mining activity was carried out by National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) at Bailadilla in Chhattisgarh during the period,” he said.

“The division, which has 38 railway stations under the three north coastal districts in addition to a couple of stations in neighbouring Odisha, on an average earns Rs 1 crore daily from passenger traffic. But because of disruptions for nearly 10 days due to the protests and track damages due to rains and cyclone Phailin, the division roughly incurred nearly Rs 10 crore losses from passenger traffic,” a senior railway official said.

The Indian Railways regulated 17 key trains, including 12 cancellations and five short-terminations, due to the strike by the electricity employees of APGenco, APTransco and Eastern Power Distribution Company of AP Limited (EPDCL) to protest against the bifurcation of the state. The supply of 25KV power to the electric traction overhead was suspended due to the strike. As a result, all the 17 trains could not move on the Chennai-Howrah main railway line passing through Vizag, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam Road under Waltair division in the first week of this month, a senior railway official said.

While the main railway track between Palasa and Ichchapuram railway stations in Srikakulam district were damaged due to rains and cyclone Phailin, the railway line was also damaged at Yelamanchili and Narsingapalli railway station limits in Visakhapatnam district due to the recent torrential rains.

The railways were forced to suspend around 61 trains passing through Visakhapatnam to various destinations for 10 days — on October 7 due to no power, from October 11 to 13 due to cyclone and from October 24 to October 29 due to rains. Most of the trains were diverted via either Vijayawada or Vizianagaram railway stations when the railway traffic was suspended between Palasa and Ichchapuram due to heavy rains caused by Cyclone Phailin as well as the northeast monsoon.