Some train services will be cancelled and several others regulated or diverted from September 22 to October 13 for replacing the girders of a railway bridge across the Meenachal river and urgent maintenance of four minor bridges between Kottayam and Ernakulam.

At a press conference here on Monday, Rajiv Dutt Sharma, Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram, said Railways had planned to carry out the works without much disturbance to people.

Mr. Sharma said three 55-year-old corroded middle spans (24.4-metre each) of the Meenchal bridge would be replaced. The other two spans (18.29-metre each) were replaced during the broad-gauge conversion of the line in 1975. The girders fabricated at the engineering workshop at Arakkonam had been moved to the site.

V. Rajagopalan, Senior Divisional Engineer, said the girders would be erected on piers in the span on either side in a six-hour line block scheduled for September 24. The replacement of the girders would be done during the mega block of 10-12 hours to be taken up on three Sundays commencing from September 26. The girders of the railway bridges 312, 343, 388 and 435 in the section would also be replaced.

J. Vinayan, Senior Divisional Operations Manager, said inter-city commuter trains such as Venad, Vanchinad, Intercity and Janashatabdi expresses would not be affected. Only on Sundays would the Venad Express be diverted as a 10-12 hour block had to be enforced.

Long-distance trains such as Kerala, Kanyakumari-Mumbai, Garib Rath and Sabari expresses would be diverted. Two or three trains would be diverted on 10 days, nine trains on two days, 13 trains on two days and 14 trains on a day. No trains would be cancelled during commuter timings.

Train no. 0343/0346 Ernakulam-Kayamkulam Passenger (via Kottayam) and 0335/0336 Ernakulam-Kayamkulam Passenger (via Alappuzha) will be cancelled on September 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 and October 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12 and 13. 0344 Kayamkulam-Ernakulam Passenger will be cancelled on September 26, October 3 and 10. 0355 Ernakulam-Kollam Passenger would not run between Ernakulam and Kottayam on October 26, October 3 and 10.

Mr. Vinayan said long-distance trains likely to be delayed by less than an hour would not be diverted. Only trains likely to be delayed by one hour or more would be run via Alappuzha. Such trains included 2625 Kerala Express, 6649 Mangalore-Thiruvananthapuram Parasuram Express and 7230 Hyderabad-Thiruvananthapuram Sabari Express. Some weekly trains such as 2288 Dehradun-Kochuveli Express and 6318 Kanyakumari Express were likely to be regulated.

Mr. Vinayan said passengers who had booked tickets to or from Mavelikara and Thripunithura could cancel these and get full refunds. Ot they could commence or end journeys at any of the stations on the diverted route. Railways had requested the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation to run buses between Ernakulam and destinations to which the train services would be unavailable.

All trains running via Alappuzha would stop at Kayamkulam, Haripad, Ambalapuzha, Alappuzha, Cherthala, Ernakulam South and Ernakulam North during the period.

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