Providing a boost to inter-district connectivity, the long-overdue Ernakulam-Thrissur Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) train was flagged off from here on Saturday.

Passengers can now travel between Ernalukalm and Thrissur in just two hours at a cheap fare of Rs.15. The service will start from Thrissur at 10.50 a.m. and reach Ernakulam by 12:55 p.m.

The return journey, will start from Ernakulam at 2.30 p.m. and reach Thrissur by 4.50 p.m. The train will have stops at Ollur, Puthukkad, Nellayi, Irinjalakuda, Chalakkudy, Divine Nagar, Koratty, Karukutty, Angamaly, Chowara, Aluva, Kalamassery, Edappally, Ernakulam town, and Ernakulam Junction stations.

The service will be extended to Palakkad later this year.

Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas, MPs and MLAs were present when the train was flagged off from Ernakulam. At the function passengers’ representatives demanded more such services between nearby districts, to reduce congestion on highways.

Passengers’ organisations demanded that the train operate during peak hours and be extended to Kottayam during afternoon hours when the train will be pulled up at Ernakulam. The Railways is learnt to be looking into the issue.

The Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal said a decision on this would have to be taken at a higher level.

MEMU shed

The Ernakulam-Thrissur MEMU that was announced in the 2012-13 railway Budget, will ply on all days except Tuesday when it will be taken to the Palakkad MEMU shed for repairs and cleaning. On the inordinate delay in commissioning the MEMU shed at Kollam, Mr. Agarwal refuted allegations that the delay in commissioning was due to inadequate personnel.

Passengers’ demands

The All Kerala Railway Users’ Association demanded that the MEMU run on all days, instead of only six. The Railway should take steps to commission the MEMU shed at Kollam, the association said. It must also commence additional MEMU trains in the Ernakulam-Kollam sector, as promised, it added. Passenger associations also demanded that trains or MEMUs be introduced from Ernakulam to Kayamkulam that ply through both Alappuzha and Kottayam, during the early morning and late evening hours. Another demand is for an early morning train service to Shornur from Ernakulam.

Stations’ development

K.V. Thomas said Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam Town and Tripunithura railway stations would be developed in the near future. The work on the escalators proposed at Ernakulam Junction would begin in a month, he said.

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