Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Union Minister of State for Railways Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy spoke highly of the “commercial capital of AP” and the “second largest city in AP” during their recent visit to the city.
The Chief Minister had also announced that the government was committed to organising the World Telugu Conference, scheduled to be held from December 27 to 29 at Tirupati, in a grand manner.
Alas, the government, the East Coast Railway under which is Visakhapatnam, and the organisers seem to have conveniently forgotten the “second largest city” when it came to running of special trains for the WTC, while the South Central Railway is operating two special trains from Hyderabad for the convenience of delegates.
It is learnt that the ECoR is not running special trains since it has not received any such request from peoples’ representatives or others. Its officials could be thinking: “What if the special goes empty?”
Long waiting list
But, if that is their thinking, one can conclude that the authorities concerned have not done their homework. A look at the reservation charts of Tirumala Express, the only originating train from here to Tirupati, reveals a long waiting list all through the year. During Sankranti and other holidays, the demand swells. Needless to say, a large number of people from the city and the neighbouring districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam attend the WTC in large numbers.
Even otherwise, the pilgrim rush during the holiday season would ensure that the rakes are full. Waltair Division has two rakes at its disposal to run the specials to Tirupati. The rake of the Visakhapatnam-Digha weekly express will be free from Saturday to Wednesday and the Visakhapatnam-LTT (Mumbai) weekly express via Raipur rake will be free from Wednesday to Saturday. “Instead of allowing the rakes to idle they can be effectively used to run the special trains,” according to railway sources. In the absence of accommodation on trains, the government cannot expect to hold the WTC in a grand manner. The Railways should wake up at least now and run special trains for the convenience of WTC delegates and pilgrims visiting Tirupati during holidays.