Hope development of rail facilities in north Kerala will get a push

Train users in the northern districts of the State will keenly await the outcome of discussions between Union Minister for Railways Dinesh Trivedi and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.

They expect the Railway Minister to give a much-needed push for the development of rail facilities that remain backward in this part of the State.

Train passenger associations say most railway stations in the northern districts stand as symbols of neglect. Rail electrification has not made progress. Even track doubling is behind schedule.

Unhappy with the lack of amenities at Kozhikode Railway Station, the train users hope Mr. Trivedi's visit will hasten the station's development to world-class standards as promised by Mamata Banerjee when she was Railway Minister.

The Kozhikode station, at present an ‘A' category station used by nearly 7,000 passengers, has four high-level platforms and 11 booking counters, but these facilities fall far short of the requirement. The train users' organisations are sore that much time has elapsed since the promise to elevate the station to international standards was made.

Serpentine queues for tickets for trains that are about to leave are a common sight here. Since there is only one foot overbridge at the north end of the station, passengers are forced to walk the entire length of the platform to cross over. Demands for a foot overbridge at the south end of the platform have been getting louder. The staff are unhappy with the dilapidated condition of their quarters.

M.K. Raghavan, MP, who recently raised in the Lok Sabha the problems of the rail users in the northern districts, has placed the pressing needs of the Kozhikode station before the Railway Minister, and is hopeful the Minister's visit will bring cheer to the people of the northern districts.

At the station, all four platform shelters have to be extended to cover the entire length of the station, there should be more ticket counters on platform one and four, modern automatic vending machines or separate counters to issue platform tickets, more toilets, upgrade of the railway health unit, a budget hotel, refreshment stalls on platform four, medical stores on the platforms, and Internet cafes.

The passengers' associations have demanded shifting of the information centre at the station to the ticket booking office, restoration of train ticket examiners sleeping depot, and shifting of the Elathur railway gate as movement of goods trains for Hindustan Petroleum Ltd. at Elathur leads to the gate remaining closed most of the time. Local people want the gate to be shifted to the southern side of the Elathur railway station.

The associations have complained about lack of adequate long-distance trains. They have demanded train services between Kozhikode and Vasco, extension to Kozhikode of the Yesvantpur-Kannur (via Mangalore) service, a Mangalore-Hyderabad service, a Kannur-Thiruvananthapuram night express, conversion to daily service of the Thiruvananthapuram-Nizamuddin Rajdhani, and a Kozhikode-Erode inter-city service.