The long-delayed Ernakulam-Thrissur mainline electrical multiple unit (MEMU) train is likely to chug off from here on March 23.
Its rake is ready. “There is no official communication on extending it up to Palakkad,” said a senior Railways official. Reacting to the Union Railway Minister’s promise two days ago to allot new MEMU trains in the Ernakulam-Kollam sector through Kottayam and Alappuzha, he said their flag off date and timings would be discussed at a later stage.
But he admitted that the inordinate delay in doubling the track in the two districts might affect their speed.
Late evening trains
Commuters have been demanding late evening trains from Ernakulam to Kayamkulam or Kollam through the two routes for many years. At present, there are no trains in the Ernakulam-Alappuzha-Kayamkulam stretch for about five hours during evening peak hours, between 6.30 p.m. and 11.15 p.m.
A train that leaves Ernakulam at around 8 p.m. will be of immense use to commuters, many of whom hitch a ride in lorries and other vehicles at night to reach Chertalaand Alappuzha. Another long-pending demand is to extend the Shoranur-Ernakulam train that reaches Ernakulam at 8 p.m., to Alappuzha. The All Kerala Railway Users’ Association had repeatedly taken up the issue with the Zonal Railway Consultative Commitee in Chennai.
The Association also suggested the extension of the Ernakulam-Kottayam passenger train to Kayamkulam, since there is no train in the busy corridor between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Ensuring better rail connectivity between neighbouring districts will considerably lessen traffic on highways. It will also speed up express trains, by reducing the number of stoppages.
Though more MEMUs are expected in Kerala, the shed in Kollam for the upkeep of coaches is not yet ready.