The railway stations at Ullal, Surathkal are neglected

A plethora of promises and proposals await railway stations in Mangalore — from introduction of new trains to developing world-class stations. But, in the eagerness of it all, have mofussil stations of Ullal and Surathkal been left in the lurch?

Sixteen trains – of which 10 are daily trains – pass through the Surathkal station. Even with an important technology institute nearby as well as being a bustling suburb, the station manages meagre number of commuters travelling from it: according to officials, only around 500 travel from the station daily, or around 15,000 people monthly.

Ullal Railway Station, similarly, seems to be a picture of neglect. Seven trains – of which five are passenger trains – stop at the station; and railway officials said an average of 10,500 people use the station monthly.

The passenger amenities in Surathkal station, coming under Konkan Railways, have not changed since 1998, said an official there.

There is no Passenger Reservation System, and those from the area or Mulki have to travel to Mangalore Central or Kankanady for bookings.

Konkan Railway rules say tickets, according to quota, can be issued only one hour before the scheduled arrival of trains and this leads to long queues. The lack of an enquiry system or a ticket vending machine adds to the consternation of commuters.

Shockingly, for those alighting from trains coming from Uttara Kannada, there is no platform on the other side of the station.

“There is only one toilet here, and it is in a horrible condition. A pay and use toilet should be introduced,” said Mukunda N., a student of National Institute of Technology-Karnataka nearby. Though the station ideally provides access to trains to his hometown Mumbai, the lack of a proper waiting room, lack of an automated system informing the coach position or delays in the train schedule, unavailability of food at the station among others sees him going to Kankanady or Mangalore Central to board a train.

“The station is hardly developed. How can you expect anyone to use it?,” he said.

Similarly, on the other side of Mangalore, hidden among undergrowth is the Ullal station. There is hardly a road leading to the station, and commuters are dependent entirely on autorickshaws.

The entry and exit from the station is just as bare as the station itself.

The narrow road has no electric lights and the dense undergrowth all around give it a spooky appearance.

Taranath, a resident of Someshwara who takes the evening train from Mangalore Central daily, said women hardly travel in the train as the station and its surrounding hardly offer any security.

Officials say the station has not seen any development for the past 10 years. “We have asked for a waiting room, a cleaner toilet, and better facilities.

However, funds allocated to the station are correlated with the revenue generated form the station. With no trains, there are no commuters, and hence, facilities remain undeveloped,” said a railway official.

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