Jajpur: Hundreds of local residents Sunday demanded the restoration of passenger train service in Jajpur, which was previously stopped in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak around two years ago.
Even as Covid-19 situation has already normalised in the state, the much essential train service needs to be restored, immediately.
“Passenger trains are mostly used by the poor and middle class commuters across Odisha as an economical means of transportation. However, the service has not been restored yet causing trouble for short-distance movements,” many residents alleged.
Daily coronavirus caseload in the state has gone below 100, earlier imposed Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed, tourist destinations, marketplaces, offices, educational institutions and religious places in Jajpur have also been opened, the residents stated.
Even to the extent, three-tier rural polls have completed and elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) are underway. But, it is strange that passenger train service has not normalised, the locals rued.
Most of the express trains passing through Cuttack railway station are being run as special trains, excluding the passenger trains. Similarly, the Talcher-Puri MEMU (passenger train), which was halted since March 2020, awaits nod of the railway authorities to run.
Commuters in Jajpur were able to go from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar in passenger trains for their personal works, by paying just Rs 10. Likewise, they were paying Rs 20 for Puri, the locals added.
A number of people were travelling to Cuttack in the passenger trains from Jajpur district every day to reach Orissa High Court, Office of Odisha Police DG, SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH), National Law University, Ravenshaw University and the like.
Several Jajpur locals also travel to the Capital City to reach Lok Seva Bhawan (secretariat), Utkal University and many more.
Local residents who raised their voices demanding the restoration of passenger train service include persons namely Purnachandra Das, Ashutosh Kar from Jajpur-Keonjhar Road locality and Ramchandra Pratap, Nirmal Sahu and Bijaya Kumar Khandayi from Haridaspur, all belonging to a local outfit named ‘Rail Yatri Sangh’.
Notably, people from Talcher and Dhenkanal areas were conveniently travelling to the twin cities every day. Commuters from Cuttack were travelling to Bhubaneswar, Puri and Khurda in passenger trains. It was previously much convenient to return home by the evening.
Passenger train service has restored in many other states coming under a total of 17 railway zones in the country.
Some of the temporarily cancelled major passenger trains that pass through Cuttack and Bhubaneswar include: Bhadrak-Bhubaneswar MEMU, Bhadrak-Cuttack MEMU, Paradip-Cuttack MEMU, Cuttack-Ichhapuram MEMU, Bhubaneswar-Berhampur MEMU, Khurda Road-Kharagpur Fast Passenger and Santragachi-Puri Passenger.
As many as four pairs of passenger trains were previously running between Paradip and Cuttack every day, prior to Covid-19 outbreak and only one train runs now.
Allegedly, a few MEMU trains that are running these days charge more price than before, following a recent agitation by people.
It is said that the railway authorities have been charging three times more fair these days, than usual price, on the pretext of special trains. Commuters were earlier paying Rs 10 to travel in a MEMU train from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar.