The Divisional railway authorities have opened a passenger reservation system (PRS) at Pampa and made arrangements at the Kottayam, Chengannur, Thiruvalla and Ernakulam Junction railway stations for Sabarimala pilgrims.
The PRS at Pampa, which functions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, will be operational till January 18. According to the Railways, the working hours of the PRS can be extended depending on the demand of the pilgrims. In addition to the PRS, provision is being made for selling unreserved tickets at Pampa.
Four unreserved booking counters will function at Kottayam and Chengannur. An additional counter will be opened as and when the queue goes beyond five persons. The number of booking counters at Thiruvalla has been increased to three.
Three reservation counters will function from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kottayam and Chengannur against the two functioning now. At Thiruvalla, two counters will function.
Staff well versed in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam have been posted at the public information centres. A pilgrimage shed, having a full-fledged toilet block, has been set up on platform one at Kottayam.
Assistance booths-cum- stalls of the police, KSRTC, Health Department have been set up on the concourse area of the Kottayam station and seasonal permits issued to 248 vehicles to operate from the station premises. An air-conditioned dormitory and a retiring room will be commissioned soon.
At the Chengannur station, two new waiting halls have been commissioned for the pilgrims. A special counter has been opened by the IRCTC for selling ‘Janta Khana’ for Rs.10 to pilgrims.
Assistance booths of the Health Department and the Railway medical team, KSRTC, Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham and the St. Johns Ambulance Brigade have been set up on platform one. Additional seasonal permits had been issued to 109 vehicles.
At the Ernakulam Junction station, additional staff had been deployed to man six counters at the booking office and seven PRS counters had been opened. Assistance booths of the Ayyappa Seva Samithy, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the KSRTC had been set up.
Last year, the Railways operated 393 special trains from various stations for the pilgrims. This year, the Railways are expecting 400 trains and steps will be taken to run popular express trains at maximum capacity.
Special trains have been given stoppages of five minutes at Chengannur, Thiruvalla and Kottayam. The stoppages of the Kerala Express, Sabari Express, Chennai Mail, Island Express at Chengannur have been increased from two to five minutes up to January 18.
The Health Department has been permitted to set up H1N1 information booths at seven stations.