A total of 67 volunteers of the Communist Party of India (CPI) courted arrest as they attempted to picket the Manamadurai-Tiruchi passenger train at the railway station here on Wednesday.

They protested the proposed withdrawal of the train service from January 1.

The cadres of the party went to the railway station at 10.30 a.m., well before the arrival of the train.

Tension gripped the area for a while as the cadres attempted to reach up to the platform, defying the heavy police bandobust.

However, the cadres restrained from reaching the locomotive and staged their protest by raising slogans against the move.

The District Secretary of the party, S.P. Muthukumaran, said that the passenger train catered to the needs of the economically weaker sections. The objective of incurring huge expenditure on developing the metre-gauge into broad-gauge sector would be achieved only if more trains were introduced, he said. He added that it was a pity that the Southern Railways, instead of introducing more and new trains, withdrew even the existing services.

The District Treasuer of the party, V. Singamuthu, and the Pudukottai Town Secretary M.N. Ramachandran sought the immediate intervention of the Union Minister for Home P. Chidambaram to ensure the continuance of the train service.

Those courted arrest included seven women including the District secretary of the Madhar Sammelanam, S. Subbulakshmi. They were, however, let off later.