East Coast Railway (ECoR) has reduced the popular Visakhapatnam – Mumbai LTT Super Fast (SF) Express into a clone of the popular 11020/11019 Bhubaneswar – CSTM (Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus) Konark Express to meet the demand of the people of Odisha.
Besides reducing the status of the popular 22819/20 Visakhapatnam-Mumbai LTT from SF to ‘ordinary express’, it has revised the timings from Visakhapatnam to make it trail behind the Konark Express, on the plea that there was a demand for running of a clone train to Konark from Bhubaneswar. The Operating Department of ECoR Headquarters in Bhubaneswar came out with the startling reply when a passenger sought information under the RTI Act.
“The present timings of Visakhapatnam-LTT SF Express are not only convenient but also very comfortable for both business travellers and regular passengers,” S.V. Iyer, the RTI applicant, wrote in his grievance to the Railway Board. He wondered: “Why will a passenger prefer this train, if Konark Express plies just ahead of it? Why are such blunders being committed again and again?” He sought a study and re-introduction of the popular train in its present timings for the benefit of the people at large.
The ECoR replied that the Konark Express is over-crowded throughout the year and occupancy of the train is more than 130 per cent in all classes. There has been a demand to run a clone express following 11020/11019, which could not materialise due to maintenance problem at Bhubaneswar. Hence, it has been decided to start a train trailing the Konark Express from Visakhapatnam and it is the only convenient timing to increase the frequency of LTT-Visakhapatnam S/F from bi-weekly to daily.
The contention that Visakhapatnam-LTT can be a clone of Konark Express is wrong, feel those watching the developments. This is because the two trains do not run on the same route and the stoppages are also different. They apprehend that on the plea of a clone, the train would be extended to Bhubaneswar, when the new Bhubaneswar station starts functioning.
ECoR had announced that the Visakhapatnam-LTT will be converted into a daily with effect from September 10. But, even after that date, the train is being shown as a bi-weekly with a new number and timings on the official website. What has happened to the proposal to convert it into a daily?