Alappuzha: The sudden cancellation of several long-haul trains, including Sabari Specials, due to cyclone Michaung, has left several Sabarimala pilgrims from neighbouring states stranded at Chengannur and Kottayam railway stations. Many groups, that include children and elderly persons, are having a torrid time as they were forced to spend an additional 24 hours at the railway stations before they could manage to finally catch trains back home. “With trains like Chennai Mail and Kerala Express being cancelled, the most affected were the pilgrims from Tamil Nadu. Those from Andhra Pradesh and nearby regions like Vijayawada too are hit. There was a heavy rush of pilgrims at Chengannur railway station on Monday, though the situation began to ease by Tuesday noon,” said a senior Government Railway Police official.
KSRTC steps in
With their trains being cancelled, leaving them stranded, the pilgrims protested at Chengannur railway station on Monday night. However, the police and the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) officials made a timely interference and prevented the situation from going out of control. “We operated inter-state service to Madurai to facilitate the return journey of the pilgrims. We’ve two buses with interstate permits. Also, buses were arranged on the spot and conducted services to Ernakulam and Palakkad on a war footing,” said Anil Kumar, KSRTC Special Officer, Chengannur.
Uncertainty grips Andhra pilgrims
Meanwhile, pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh and nearby regions are still facing uncertainty. While the situation in Tamil Nadu, which experienced torrential rain leading to many areas getting flooded, improved by Tuesday morning, the severe cyclone Michaung is poised for a landfall at the Andhra Pradesh coastline. “Our group of five members arrived at Kottayam station at 1 pm on Monday after having darshan at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. However, our train (T No 06092 –MGR Chennai Central Special Fare SF Sabarimala Special) scheduled to leave at 8.45 pm on Dec 4 got cancelled. We waited for the Sabari Express in the morning and found to our shock that it too was cancelled. Now our hope rests on Raptisagar Express at 1.50 noon. However, with the cyclone threat, we’re facing severe uncertainty.
Now we have no reservation seats and plan to return somehow travelling in general coaches,” said N V Sachinarayana (46), who heads a five-member group from Vijayawada. Like them, several pilgrims were forced to spend the night at the Chengannur and Kottayam railway stations.