30 hours aboard the 'Cockroach Express'

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Mumbai:  For passengers travelling from Howrah to Mumbai aboard the Geetanjali Express, the nearly 30-hour journey was nothing short of a nightmare.

Passengers in the second AC coach had to share their beds with cockroaches till they reached Mumbai on December 4.

"The second AC coach must have had over 1,000 cockroaches. When we first complained of the insects, the officials in the train claimed they had sprayed an insecticide. When we did not see any improvement, we asked for the complaint book. The staff claimed it was with the maintenance staff and deflected the issue," said Pratik Gupta, a city-based photographer who was coming back home.

He added that the staff on the train claimed pest control had been carried out in the train on December 2, a day before they began their journey.

Despite that, the train was infested with cockroaches and passengers could not sleep. Speaking to MiD DAY, some passengers said they regretted their decision to travel by AC and would have been better off if they had chosen to travel by second-class sleeper.

"There were so many cockroaches and the maintenance was so bad that the second class sleeper would have been better. The cockroaches were getting into our luggage. We could not do anything. Everybody was troubled and we could not sleep because cockroaches were getting into our shirts and pants," said Pranab Patnaik, an employee of a software firm.

Echoing his sentiments, Sulakshana Mitra, a housewife from Navi Mumbai, said, "There were so many cockroaches that I became a victim of food poisoning."

However, railway officials in the city seemed unaware about the problem faced by passengers in the train as it came under the South Eastern Railways.

When contacted, Central Railway CPRO VA Malegaonkar said, "I am not aware of the matter, but if such a thing has happened, action will definitely be taken.  We will also ensure that such a thing does not happen at our end and that the trains are well maintained."

On July 18, passengers of the Mumbai-Howrah Duronto Express staged protests at the Howrah station after they discovered a cockroach in a meal supplied on the train.

The passengers alleged that while the cockroach was found in the rice, several other food items given for lunch were also either stale or of poor quality.

In another incident, passengers aboard the Saket express on July 22 had to pull the chain thrice to get the railway authorities to change their insect-infested coaches.

The Faizabad-bound train from Lokmanya Tilak (Kurla) terminus was delayed by almost two hours in the process.


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