The Indian Railways is facing a 10 to 20 per cent shortage of loco pilots, which has affected the launch of new trains, Minister of State for Railways Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy said.

For new trains, loco pilots are being used from the existing services, which will create further shortage.

The railways was training a number of newly-recruited loco pilots. Their training period should be completed in the next two months and new trains would be introduced after November, he told The Hindu on the sidelines of the launch of the new train from Puducherry to Kanyakumari here on Monday.

Mr. Reddy said the railways was working with the Territorial Administration on the location of the new railway station for Puducherry. Once the issue was settled, the UT would receive a new station at the cost of Rs. 400 crore. The location of the station would also help determine the course of the new line, he said.

Additional General Manager of Southern Railways G. Narayanan said the Mamallapuram to Puducherry stretch of the line was being finalised.

Presently, the railways was working to bring three new trains to the Union Territory – the extension of the Bangalore to Nagore train to Karaikal, which would start in the next two days, the extension of the Mangalore-Tiruchi train to Puducherry and the Tirupati to Puducherry train. The trains were awaiting notification and they would be introduced in the next three months.

Speaking at the function, Union Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy said steps would be taken to upgrade amenities at the Puducherry railway station, including an escalator to facilitate movement between the two platforms.