Will get back coaches diverted after being sent to Chennai for repairs

Having suffered a severe dent in its image following an acute shortfall of coaches and a spate of accidents involving ill-maintained coaches in Kerala, the railways has grown wiser.

The coach position is getting back to normal and steps have been taken to ensure their upkeep, Thiruvanathapuram Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal assured. “The Thiruvananthapuram Division is not an outhouse of other divisions (in Southern Railway). We must get back each coach that is sent to Chennai for periodic repairs,” he said.

He was responding to questions from reporters here about reports that about 25 per cent of the coaches sent for repairs from Kerala were diverted to places in Tamil Nadu, causing acute coach shortage in the State.

On passengers being forced to travel in inferior coaches because of the shortage of AC coaches, Mr Agarwal said this mismatch was being addressed. The Ernakulam Area Manager of Southern Railway P L Ashok Kumar had said all trains were plying with the sanctioned number of coaches since Tuesday. “Steps are being taken so that shortage of coaches can be anticipated well in advance. We also need coaches to step up the existing coach composition in trains.

More coaches can be added to trains that travel with 18 coaches, so that more passengers can be accommodated in them,” Mr Agarwal said, at a press conference here.

Biennale tie-up

The railways was engaged in discussion with the biennale organisers so that artists could help spruce up railway stations and make them livelier, he said.

Initially, they could unleash their creativity in Ernakulam Junction and stations south of it. “They can depict theme-based works or even murals, which commuters would prefer than dull concrete,” he told reporters here on Thursday.

A blueprint to convert the Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram stations into world-class stations is being readied and it has to be decided where the artists can step in, he said.

Biennale curator Bose Krishnamachari said the biennale was ‘serious’ about the proposal. “The idea is still at a conceptual stage. We haven’t physically scouted the stations proposed. We will hold further discussions with the railway officials for a roadmap on this. And the project would be executed using the services of Kerala-based artists,” he said.

Delay in overbridges

Mr Agarwal expressed concern over the delay by the State government in constructing overbridges at busy level crossings. The Division needs 100 rail overbridges, for which the railways will bear 50 per cent of the cost. Such structures are built within six months in places like Delhi.

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