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Kolkata: A wildcat cease-work agitation by train guards today caused major disruption in train services on the Howrah – Burdwan route.

The agitation resulted in the cancellation of as many as 30 EMU local trains while leaving three mail/express trains stranded en route destinations for about 30 minutes each.

The situation limped back to normalcy after about five hours only after the railway authorities gave in to the demand of the guards for the time being.

The guards resorted to the wildcat cease-work at Howrah station from 4.15 in the morning over the decision of the rail authorities to abolish carrying of ‘Guard Box’ in local trains.

A ‘Guard Box’ contains emergency tools to fix electrical, mechanical glitches in a moving train and to fix small-time damages of railway tracks. Until now, porters used to load the ‘Guard Box’ before a train’s scheduled journey but Eastern Railway authorities recently decided to do away with the practice ostensibly to ensure better punctuality in train running.

But the guards objected to the decision as they are the ones who face the passengers in the event of a breakdown of a train or wherever some problem comes to notice on the railway tracks. Without the ‘Guard Box’, they will have no other way but to wait for railway recovery van to come for a repair and the resulting delay may make them face passengers’ ire.

This made the guards in Howrah rail division resort to the wildcat cease-work today morning. Eastern Railway authorities, however, claims that the carrying of ‘Guard Box’ has already been done away with in the Sealdah division for the past two years without any major repercussions.

With the guards in the Howrah division refusing to join duty, the authorities pressed in traffic inspectors to run the local trains on Howrah-Burdwan route. But this was of negligible help as some 30 EMU local trains had to be cancelled.

The railway authorities finally got into a discussion with the agitating guards and decided to allow them to continue carrying the ‘Guard Box’ in trains for a week. They are, however, firm that ‘Guard Box’ will be abolished after this time-frame.