New Delhi: More than 1,000 passengers on board Guwahati Express and Guwahati-Silchar Express trains, which were stuck in the flood-hit areas of Assam, were helped by RailTel’s wi-fi facility at stations, where there was a complete breakdown of mobile network, the rail PSU said on Wednesday.

RailTel made special arrangements for providing communication using station wi-fi to the stranded passengers of the two trains stuck on the Lumding-Badarpur hill section in Assam last week because of heavy rains that led to a total breakdown of mobile services of all operators in the affected area.

The affected area falls under the Lumding railway division of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

The passengers could communicate with their families using this special arrangement.

The railway administration also used this connectivity facility for organising the relief-and-rescue operation effectively.

Inclement weather and incessant rain caused massive landslides and waterlogging at several locations of the Lumding-Badarpur hill section. This resulted in damage to the railway track, bridges, road and communication network in this hilly terrain.

The NFR zone had geared up its entire machinery and controlled train services over the affected section due to this serious condition. However, two trains got stranded in these flash floods, each with about 1,400 passengers. One was train number 15616 Silchar-Guwahati Express at the Ditokcherra station and another was train number 15615 Guwahati-Silchar Express at the New Haflong station in Assam’s Dima Hasao district.

The railway administration launched a massive evacuation operation with the help of the Air Force, the Railway Protection Force (RPF), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Assam Rifles and locals.

But another big challenge was the total breakdown of mobile services of all operators in the affected area, which left the passengers and the railway administration isolated from the world.

“In this difficult situation, the wi-fi facility already available at railway stations provided by RailTel Corporation proved very useful in providing connectivity. Special arrangements were made for passengers to use station wi-fi to contact their families.

“The railway administration also used this connectivity facility for organising the relief-and-rescue operation effectively. This special arrangement was made by temporarily suspending the requirement of OTP on the mobile phone of a user, as required under standard procedure for authentication purpose as mobile services were down in that area,” the company said.

This connectivity was provided at Ditokcherra (station code: DTC), New Harangajao (station code: NHGJ), New Haflong (station code: NHLG) — all in Dima Hasao district — and at Damcherra (station code: DCA) in Cachar district of Assam falling under the Lumding division of the NFR.

Also Read | Flood condition worsens in Assam, landlsides in Arunachal



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