A result of sustained efforts, says struggle committee; efforts to continue for routing more trains
After a gap of nearly 30 years, Train No.16041/16042 Chennai - Alleppey - Chennai Express is all set to be routed via Coimbatore. Train No. 16331/16332 Mumbai CSTM - Thiruvananthapuram - Mumbai CSTM weekly Express will also pass through Coimbatore.
Confirming the Railway Board's decision to clear the proposal for routing these trains, convenor of the struggle committee G.K. Nagaraj and rail activist S. Nagaraj said it was the result of their sustained efforts. He added that the committee's efforts would continue for other trains too.
Mr. Nagaraj said that absence of the Coimbatore - Irugur second line in the past was the reason for the neglect of Coimbatore.
Now, the proposal to double the Podanur - Irugur line is likely to enlarge the threat for trains skipping Coimbatore.
The committee would oppose the doubling and push for the single line to be declared as a dedicated freight corridor.
It may be recalled that the committee had waged a long draw out struggle to get 13 pairs of trains (weekly, bi-weekly, tri-weekly, six days a week and daily) routed via Coimbatore. All of them were running via Irugur - Podanur - Irugur section.
Some with a halt at Coimbatore and some others skip it.
Citing passenger potential, demand and the fact that Coimbatore was the next largest revenue spinner next to Chennai, the struggle committee met all top officials in the Railways, including ministers.
The first victory for the committee came in the form of a halt at Podanur for the Tirunelveli - Bilaspur - Tirunelveli Express and Yeswantpur - Kannur - Yeswantpur Express, providing overnight rail connectivity to Bangalore.
‘Cheer to rail users'
The decision of the Railway Board to route Chennai Central - Alleppey - Chennai Central Express train brought lot of cheer to rail users in this part of the State. After analysing the pathway congestion and Advance Reservation Period (ARP), Southern Railway will decide on the exact date from which these two trains would run via Coimbatore.
The train was running via Coimbatore 30 years ago as 41/42 Madras - Kochi Express and was later extended from Kochi to Alleppey. It provides convenient overnight connectivity between Coimbatore and Chennai besides early morning train option up to Alleppey.
The train also has non-AC first class accommodation for those wanting to travel first class without AC. The Railway timetable of 1977 reveals that this train was originally run via Coimbatore. It also indicates that the Thiruvananthapuram - Chennai - Thiruvanthapuram Mail (12623/24), which runs via Podanur skipping Coimbatore, earlier ran via Coimbatore as 12/20 Madras - Thiruvananthapuram Mail.
The Chennai - Alleppey train leaves Chennai at 9.15 p.m. and reaches Coimbatore at 4.30 a.m. It reaches Alleppey at 10.45 a.m. In the return direction, the train leaves Alleppey at 4.05 p.m. and reaches Coimbatore at 10 p.m. and reaches Chennai at 6.05 a.m.
The Mumbai CSTM – Thiruvananthapuram – Mumbai CSTM Express will arrive from Mumbai to Coimbatore on Tuesdays around 6.40 p.m., providing convenient overnight express train connectivity to Thiruvananthapuram. In the return direction, the train will leave Thiruvananthapuram on Saturdays and reach Coimbatore around 1.20 p.m.
The Railways is also considering routing two more trains via Coimbatore — 12697/98 Chennai - Thiruvananthapuram - Chennai weekly Express and the 12685/86 Chennai - Mangalore six-days-a-week train (to be made daily from August 18).
These two trains would provide more accommodation on the Coimbatore - Chennai and Coimbatore - Mangalore and Thiruvananthapuram sectors.