A gleam of hope for better rail connectivity for Coimbatore with New Delhi has emerged now, thanks to the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC) of South Central Railway.
Introduced more than a decade ago in 1999, the Coimbatore – Hazarat Nizamuddin Kongu Express Kongu Express has continued to run without a pantry car despite its travel for 2,683 km and its frequency has never been increased from a weekly train into a bi-weekly or a tri-weekly train leave alone being converted into a daily train. The committee discussed the issue at its recent meeting on January 11.
The train witnessed a change in route via Bangalore instead of Jolarpettai, Renigunta in 2001.
According to S. Ravi, ZRUCC member of South Central Railway pointed out that the Coimbatore – Nizamuddin Express was discussed at the meeting since it ran through the South Central Railway areas. The train starts from Coimbatore and runs via Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Dharmapuri, Hosur, Bangalore City, Hindpur, Dharmavaram, Anantapur, Gooty, Kurnool, Gadwal, Mahabub Nagar, Jadcharla, Kacheguda, Kazhipet, Ballarshah, Nagpur, Itarsi, Bhopal, Gwalior and Agra before reaching Nizamuddin. Despite its run closer to 45 hours, food is being loaded onto the train at en-route stations.
Interestingly, one of the en-route stations Kurnool Town is the home town of Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy, who happens to be the Union Minister of State for Railways. In addition, the train that leaves Coimbatore at 3 p.m. could be slightly delayed so as to leave after 7 p.m. This will provide overnight connectivity for Coimbatore with Bangalore. This is a zonal train and the rakes (coaches) belonged to Southern Railway and increase in frequency will have to be decided by all zonal railways concerned.
The train has a rake sharing arrangement with the Coimbatore – Chennai Central weekend express (Train No 12681/2). When the frequency of Kongu Express is increased, it also increases the frequency of the Coimbatore Chennai Weekend Express.