Though pilgrims and long-distance travellers have welcomed the operation of a direct train between Rameswaram and Varanasi (Kasi) and another train from Rameswaram and Bhubaneswar with effect from May 21, people of Ramanathapuram district are dejected over non-inclusion of Ramanathapuram and Paramakudi in the stoppage schedule.

The 8496 Bhubaneswar-Rameswaram weekly express will leave Bhubaneswar at noon on Fridays and arrive Rameswaram at 11.55 pm on Saturdays. In the return direction, the 8495 Rameswaram-Bhubaneswar express will leave Rameswaram at 6.30 a.m. on Sundays to reach Bhubaneswar at 6.40 p.m. on Mondays.

It has been announced that it will have stoppage at Khurda Road, Behrampur, Vizianagaram, Vijayawada, Gudur, Chennai Egmore, Villupuram, Mayiladuturai, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tiruchi, Karaikudi and Manamadurai. The train will not stop at Ramanathapuram, the headquarters and most populated town in the district, and Paramakudi, another major town. However, two towns in the nearby Sivaganga district have been included in the stoppage schedule.

Similarly, the recently extended Rameswaram-Varanasi Express does not have any stoppages in Ramanathapuram district other than the originating point.

K.A. Shajahan, district secretary, Indian Union Muslim League, who has sent a memorandum to the Minister for State for Railways, E. Ahamed, and other top officials of Railways, said that it was unfortunate that the authorities had failed to take the interest of passengers from Ramanathapuram, one of the highest revenue earning stations in south Tamil Nadu. Passengers, pilgrims, traders and tourists would be deprived of using the trains, which would be anyway running via Ramanathpauram and Paramakudi.

Many passengers pointed out that even small stations which were not headquarters of districts had been included in the stoppage schedule. If trains were stopped in Ramanathapuram and Paramakudi, passengers could get an additional option to travel to Chennai and other places. It would increase the revenue also. They demanded that the Railway authorities should take immediate steps to stop trains at at least one more station in the district.

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