As many as 223 trains along the Odisha coastline in the Kolkata-Chennai route have been cancelled in view of Cyclone Fani which is likely to hit the eastern state by May 3, Railways said Thursday.
These include 140 Mail/Express trains and 83 passenger trains.
"All trains cancelled in Bhadrak-Vizianagaram section (along Odisha coastline) of Kolkata-Chennai route till May 4 afternoon in view of cyclone Fani," a railway spokesperson said.
Railways has also pressed into service three special trains to ferry passengers. The ''extremely severe'' cyclonic storm is likely to affect Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
While nine trains have been diverted, four others have also been short-terminated, the spokesperson said.
The national transporter said it will grant full refund to passengers for the cancelled or diverted trains if tickets are produced for cancellation within three days from the scheduled date of journey.
The trains which have been cancelled include the Howrah-Chennai Central Coromandal Express, Patna-Eranakulam Express, New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express, Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express and the Bhubaneswar-Rameswaram Express.
The New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express, New Delhi-Puri Nandan Kanan Express, Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express and the New Delhi-Puri Purushottam Express which were scheduled to run on Thursday have been cancelled as well.
Officials said that announcements about the special trains as well as the cancellations are being made across beaches and tourists spots to help tourists.
The Railways has also cancelled trains which were to ply on Friday. These include the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and the Puri-New Delhi Nandan Kanan Express.
The transporter has issued directions to the divisional managers of all zones that frequent announcements are to be made at important stations for sensitising passengers about the cancellations, short termination and diversion of coaching trains in both directions of the Bhadrak (Odisha)-Visakhapatnam section.
So far, the Railways has announced three tourist special trains to ferry passengers from affected areas.
A special train has started from Puri at 12 noon, going towards Shalimar in West Bengal. It has reserved as well as unreserved accommodation. It will stop at Khurda Road, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Jajpur, Kendujhar Road, Bhadrak, Baleswar and Kharagpur.
The other two special trains will ferry passengers from Puri to Howrah.
On Wednesday, the Railways had issued instructions that dry food items, ''janata khana'' and water bottles in sufficient quantities will be made available at catering stalls of all major stations.
Due to disruption of train services, the situation may warrant transhipment of passengers. Local transporters are to be contracted for hiring of road vehicles for meeting exigencies as and where necessary, it said.
The national transporter has also instructed that sufficient amount of cash be made available at major stations for granting refunds to passengers and meeting other exigencies. Frontline staff are to be advised to be extremely polite while dealing with passengers and leaving no scope for complaint, it added.
"Emergency control is to be operated round the clock with helpline numbers for guiding passengers. No staff are to be allowed to go on leave for the next three days," the Railways said.
The National Crisis Management Committee, the country''s top body to handle an emergency situation, Wednesday reviewed the preparedness for cyclone Fani, a Home Ministry official said.
Around 900 cyclone shelters have been made ready to house evacuees, while troops of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and 78 teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been requisitioned for deployment.
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