Timings are inconvenient; there is no service on Friday
Though the much awaited Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) service in the Kollam-Nagercoil-Kollam section will begin from Saturday, the short-distance train passengers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, and adjoining Kanyakumari district will not benefit much from the train service.
Office-goers, students, and others commuting through the busy Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil stretch have expressed reservations about the timings of the MEMU service. The MEMU, on its journey from Kollam to Nagercoil, will reach Thiruvananthapuram Central at 1.15 p.m. and on the return journey from Nagercoil will reach Central Station here at 7.30 p.m. Office-goers bound for various places from the capital city will have to depend on other trains as the MEMU will reach Central Station only two hours after the office time.
The MEMU timings and the decision not to operate the service on Fridays has been taken by Railways without taking into account their needs, the commuters say.
Only one service
Another drawback is that there is only one MEMU service in the stretch daily. The only solace for the short-distance commuters is that Railways are not withdrawing the passenger trains.
The MEMU service is envisaged to cater to short-distance commuters with the aim of weaning them away from long-distance trains. These services were to replace passenger trains operating in the stretch.
A top Railways official told The Hindu that the MEMU service would take the pressure off Maveli Express and that they anticipated good response from short- distance commuters to the service as the train will stop at all stations.
The 66304 Kollam-Nagercoil Passenger MEMU will leave Kollam Junction at 11 a.m. on all days except Friday and will reach Nagercoil Junction at 3.15 p.m. In the return direction, the 66305 Nagercoil-Kollam MEMU will leave Nagercoil Junction at 4.50 p.m. to reach Kollam Junction at 9.40 p.m.
The introduction of MEMU service in the busy section announced in the last Railway budget got postponed over the delay in completing the maintenance car-shed in Kollam. The MEMU rake that has nine cars arrived in Kollam on Wednesday and the official launch will be on Saturday. The regular service of the MEMU will begin from December 2.
“Railways will have to take the rake to Palakkad for the maintenance and hence the MEMU service will not ply on Friday. All the MEMUs cannot be taken to Palakkad on the same day for maintenance,” the Railway official said.