Railways have initiated steps to prevent late running of short-distance trains and the situation will improve once the new timetable takes effect from July 1, Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager Sunil Bajpai has said.
He was reacting to the disquiet among passengers about many inter-district trains running late and the inadequate number of coaches in them. Mr. Bajpai said many trains were getting delayed after additional stops were sanctioned for them. “This affected schedules of other trains as well, at crossings. Track maintenance and related issues too affected train services,” he said.
On the oft-repeated complaint that most short-distance trains have hardly 14 coaches instead of the 22 coaches that an average engine can support, he said there was acute shortage of coaches. “We periodically verify ticket sales and number of season ticket holders in each train to assess the extent of overcrowding in trains. Amenities at maintenance yards too must increase in keeping with any possible augmenting of number of coaches,” he said.
The clamour for prompt running of short-distance trains through Ernakulam and augmenting coaches got louder during the past week, as irked commuters staged protest marches against Railway’s ‘apathy’ on the two issues.
Thrissur Railway Passengers’ Association (TRPA) and Coastal Railway Passengers’ Council – a conclave of commuters from Alappuzha, too have joined the issue following a recent mass protest march to Ernakulam Junction railway station by All Kerala Railway Users’ Association.
The TRPA has for long been demanding introduction of faster and more short-distance trains with sufficient number of coaches in the Ernakulam-Coimbatore sector. “This stretch can easily be developed as a suburban corridor, since track-doubling and electrification were done over a decade ago,” said P. Krishnakumar, general secretary of the association.
He termed as non-condonable the delay in doubling Ernakulam–Kayamkulam track, through Kottayam and Alappuzha and State government’s unwillingness to pool in with half the cost of works. He demanded introduction of Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) trains at frequent intervals through doubled tracks.
(The Hindu, Kochi dt 23-6-2014)