Heavy to extremely heavy rains have been lashing the northern part of Kerala for the last few days, triggering catastrophic landslides in some parts of Malappuram, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kasaragod, Kannur and Palakkad districts. This, in turn, has severely affected multiple train services to and from various railway divisions in Kerala. Several trains are being cancelled, partially cancelled or diverted since four days, severely affecting hundreds of passengers.
The Palakkad Railway Division, especially, has been affected what with as many as 20 trains have been cancelled. Palakkad division is one of the six administrative divisions of the Southern Railway Zone. Palakkad Junction, Shoranur Junction, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasaragod, Mangalore Junction and Mangalore Central are the main railway stations under the Palakkad division.
The sector between Palakkadâ€™s Shoranur Junction railway station and Kannur railway station is the most affected railway route. Train services through this route have been halted due to the threat of railway bridges getting flooded, in addition to landslips in the area. An expert team of railway officials from Chennai, who reached Kerala on Saturday to inspect the Palakkad sector, said in its report that it is not at all safe to resume the train services in this sector.
According to railway officials, the time taken to restore the Shoranur-Kannur sector cannot be predicted currently, as the rivers along the route have flooded the tracks.
"The main problem in the sector is the threat of railway bridges being flooded. The water level of rivers in the area is still higher than normal. We don't want a catastrophe like the one that happened recently in the Maharashtra flood," a railway official told TNM.
Although at present, no railway bridges are flooded, the level of water is above the safety limits. As per rules, the railway bridges are monitored based on three levels of water below it: normal level, highest flood level and danger level.
"The highest flood level is accessed based on the previous history of flooding in the area. Then, there is the danger level and when water reaches this level, special inspection is conducted here. If the water reaches above the danger level, train services will be stopped,â€ť the official said.
Currently, the level of water along the three bridges in the Shoranur-Kannur sector - numbered 855, 843 and 842 in Kuttippuram-Tirur line and bridge number 943 at Kozhikodeâ€™s Ferok - are above the danger level.
Also, in Shoranur-Karakkad (Palakkad division), the up-line track had been blocked because of large boulders that fell on the track due to landslides. An overhead electrical mast has also fallen on the track about 582 km between Shoranur and Karakkad.
In Pallippuram-Kallayi sector (between Kallai Railway Station in Kozhikode and Pallippuram railway station in Palakkad), the up and down line tracks have been affected due to water stagnation at Bridge number 833. Bridge number 838 in Kuttippuram-Pallippuram sector has also been disrupted due to waterlogging at Pallippuram, Kuttippuram, Tirunavaya, Tirur and Tanur railway stations in Malappuram district.
Meanwhile, Ottapalam-Palakkad sector, which had been closed due to landslides and blocked some railway tracks, was restored on Sunday morning. Long-distance train services have resumed operations here.
Similarly, a few train services under the Thiruvananthapuram railway division (TRD) resumed on Saturday, the railway official told TNM. Thiruvananthapuram Central, Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam Town, Kottayam, Thrissur, Alappuzha, Aluva, Kochuveli, Chengannur, Kayamkulam Junction, Kollam Junction and Varkala are the major railway stations under the TRD.
â€śWe have also started special long-distance train services from Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram to destinations such as Banaswadi railway station in Karnataka, Visakhapatnam railway station in Andhra Pradesh and Puratchi Thalaivar Dr MGR Central railway station in Chennai,â€ť the official added.
For ticket refund
Passengers, whose trains have been cancelled, can claim their refund now. Those who booked tickets online have to file TDR (Ticket Deposit Receipt), which is applicable to passengers who did not to start the train journey albeit booking the ticket, and want to apply for a refund. Others can claim their refund within three days of the scheduled date of journey at the ticket counters of the railway stations. â€śEven if the passengers cannot claim refund within those three days, they can file TDR at the counter and get their refund,â€ť the official said.
The list of cancelled trains can be monitored on Southern Railway's official Twitter page.