Verna arrives late by an hour as ‘goods train get preference’
Hundreds of commuters travelling to Udupi from here by the early morning passenger train have to put up with a delay of about an hour for the past few weeks because goods train plying between Mangalore Junction (Kankanadi) and Surathkal stations was allegedly being given preference.
The commuters allege that the train reaches Surathkal 30 to 60 minutes behind the schedule.
The Mangalore-Madgaon Passenger train, departing at 6.30 a.m., is scheduled to reach Surathkal station at 7.04 a.m. But it was found that on Wednesday, the train arrived at 7.46 a.m. and on Thursday at 7.40 a.m.
“It’s not a one-off phenomenon. We have been complaining to station master here about the regular delay. He gives us vague answers. We have given a written complaint, which has gone unanswered,” says Ashok Alva, Associate Professor of Folklore at MGM College, Udupi. “Authorities give preference to goods trains at the cost of passenger trains,” he adds.
Rita D’Souza of Surathkal, who commutes to Udupi daily, finds the delay intolerable. Shankar Nayak, who has been travelling to Udupi from Surathkal for the past seven years, said: “When we enquire we don’t get a proper reply.”
P. Sudhir, another commuter, adds, “The train does not start on time from Mangalore Junction (Kankanadi) and halts at Thokur until the single line track is cleared. The authorities need to re-schedule the timing and give preference to passenger trains”.
Rajesh Nayak, a clerk at Surathkal police station, said he has cut down on his trips to Karwar from three times a week to once or twice a week because of the day.
Southern Railway sources, which spoke on condition of anonymity, admit the delay but maintain that the number of goods trains – transporting consignments to and from MRPL and other destinations – has gone up over the last three weeks. Traffic, they said, is particularly heavy in the mornings. On top of it, there is only one track in the section. As a result, Verna Passenger Train is detained for clearance, the source said.
‘Build a foot overbridge’
The Mangalore-Madagaon-Mangalore Verna Passenger train sometimes arrives on the third platform at Surathkal. As a result, passengers are forced to cross the track – nearly 3-ft below the platform – on foot to board the train. “It’s not easy. The station does not have foot overbridge. Authorities have ignored this basic requirement,” said Ashok Alva, Associate Professor of Folklore at MGM College, Udupi.