With the Railways planning to develop Tripunithura station as Ernakulam East station, the commuters to the dark and ill-maintained station can now heave a sigh of relief.
“A tarred road to the station will be ready before the monsoon, while better lighting and more amenities are in the offing for the neglected station that has huge potential to be developed as a premier station in the region”, P. Rajeev, MP, said after a visit to the station along with Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal on Saturday.
Mr. Rajeev said the works that would be undertaken immediately at the station premises included tarring and landscaping of the approach road by mid-May. He promised to spend a share of his MP fund to construct an approach road from the western side.
“The Railway would consider the possibility of constructing a walkway from the station up to Seaport-Airport Road. It has also been decided in principle to allot a stop here for Parasuram Express. The demand for a stop here for Island Express too has been taken up. Union Minister of State K. V. Thomas has promised to convene a meeting to discuss the development of the station as Ernakulam East,” he said.
Representatives of Tripunithura Rajanagari Union of Residents Associations and the District Residents Associations’ Apex Council conveyed their concerns over the station to Mr. Agarwal. The spoke of the inadequate manpower in ticket counters, of trains not having stop there and how the only toilet at the station and the waiting room always remain locked.
They resented the Railways’ apathy in tar coating the station’s dusty approach road, despite the assurance given six months ago.
“The Railways must remember that developing the station will considerably help people of Idukki, Kottayam, neighbouring municipalities and personnel employed in dozens of major industrial units”, they said.
Enraged over the lights at the lights at the station being switched off for long durations, they demanded that the station and its premises be well lit.
The other demands included a full-time ticket counter since the station master has to issue tickets and at the same time regulate the movement of all trains that cross the station. They also demanded a roof over platforms and drinking water supply.
Ironically, among the commercial advertisement boards that are aplenty, the crucial passenger-info display boards cannot be seen at the station.
Mr. Rajeev called upon the Railways to install automatic signalling system in the Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode route, at an expected cost of Rs. 1,000 crore. This will help trains to pass one after the other every few minutes, ensuring optimal track utilisation, like in Mumbai, he said.
The cost is negligible and can be an alternative to the high-speed rail corridor, which is estimated to cost over Rs.1 lakh crore.
Mr. Rajeev and Mr. Agarwal had visited the station about six months ago, following demands from residents associations’ apex councils and others to revive and develop the stations in the suburbs of Kochi prior to the Kochi Metro work.
Back to square one
However, on Saturday, just before the arrival of Mr. Rajeev and the Divisional Railway Manager, things were back to square one as some workers were seen cleaning the cobweb-infested ceiling, which presented a clear picture of Railways’ indifference to the station.