Even as Coimbatore anxiously waits for the release of railway time table on July 1, uncertainty looms, especially in terms of the demand for re-routing nine pairs of trains via Coimbatore which are at present being operated via Irugur–Podanur –Irugur section.
The new entries in the railway time table that might benefit Coimbatore are introduction of the Coimbatore–Rameswaram–Coimbatore weekly express with departure from Coimbatore on Fridays and departure from Rameswaram on Saturdays.
The demand was for a regular daily express train has been partially conceded with a weekly train service and even the exact date of commencement of service is yet to be notified.
However, the persistent demand of the Coimbatore Railway Struggle Committee was for ending the neglect of Coimbatore by routing some of the trains that were skipping Coimbatore.
As a fallout of the representations and agitations, of the 14 pairs of trains that skipped Coimbatore, five were re-routed enhancing the connectivity of Coimbatore with Chennai, Mangalore, Kerala and some upcountry destinations, added G.K. Nagaraj, convenor of the struggle committee.
The struggle committee was sore over Railways ignoring Coimbatore and continuing to run the trains on the Irugur – Podanur – Irugur line skipping Coimbatore despite the commissioning of the Coimbatore – Coimbatore North – Irugur second line at a cost of Rs. 60 crore after a two-decade-long wait, says MP and chairman of the struggle committee P.R. Natarajan.
Coimbatore was the second largest revenue earner for Southern Railway and is a gateway for Udhagamandalam and Kerala.
It also hosts a number of industries, educational institutions and hospitals and the traffic potential was growing in leaps and bounds day-by-day, pointed out R. Raveendran of struggle committee.
The issue of routing some more pair of trains was taken up with the General Manager of Southern Railway during his recent visit to Coimbatore and he promised to get some trains diverted if not all the trains.
This has renewed the hope, pointed out Jameel Ahmed, Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee member (DRUCC).
Contrary to expectations and promises, rail activist S. Ravi quoting sources pointed out that the only pair of train to be re-routed via Coimbatore will be train number 12654/53 Mangalore – Tiruchirapalli weekly express to be extended to Puducherry as announced in the railway budget.
There are nine pairs of trains from Thiruvananthapuram, Kochuveli, Mangalore and Kannur towards Chennai and Bangalore and the struggle committee had been asking for routing these trains via Coimbatore to enhance its connectivity and augment the availability of berths to ease pressure on road traffic, pointed out U.K. Sivagnanam, another member of DRUCC.
Despite not being a super fast express and with no risk of losing that fast tag, Railways was not showing any concern for routing the 16527/28 Yesvantpur – Kannur – Yesvantpur express via Coimbatore and passengers from Coimbatore find it hard to get berths for Bangalore and had to rely on omni buses compromising on safety besides exorbitant fare, Mr. Ravi pointed out.
The meagre benefits for Coimbatore would be the increase in frequency of Coimbatore Intercity Express from three days to four days a week, introduction of the Mangalore – Kacheguda – Mangalore bi-weekly express on Wednesdays and Sundays towards Kacheguda and on Tuesdays and Fridays towards Mangalore, besides Yesvantpur – Mangalore – Yesvantpur weekly express from Mangalore on Mondays and from Yesvantpur on Sundays.