Everything is ready, but train service not introduced

A sumptuous feast is ready to be served. The dining table has been neatly laid out.

The seated guests, hungry though, are eagerly waiting for the delicacies.

Even the pre-meal prayer is through. But then there is no sign of the food reaching the table.

Forced to wait at the table, the people of Karur are aghast at the delay in operating passenger trains on the new Karur-Namakkal-Salem broadgauge track.

The Salem Railway Division authorities have been making noises about passenger train services being operated “soon” on the new track that has been certified by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, S.K. Mittal, following his mandatory inspection for three days in the last week of February. He said that the services could be operated probably in March itself.

He had said that he would submit his report to the Railway Board in a week and it was only a matter of time before the services were operated.

Several officials, including Divisional Railway Manager Sujatha Jayaraj, have been announcing that passenger services would be run on the new track that would put Namakkal on the railway map. But nothing has moved so far.

A fortnight ago, some officials on a routine inspection visit to Karur Junction said passenger services would be operated from the first week of May.

“The Railway Budget was conspicuously mum on the opening of the new track although some trains were announced and they were expected to be operated on the new line. We thought that with the mandatory CRS inspection ending on a high note, services would be operated soon. March and April came and went but there is no sign of trains being run on the new track. We could not fathom what went wrong,” says Train Travellers’ Welfare Association president S. Annadurai.

“The officials have now said that trains would be operated from May first week but there were no preliminary activities so far and we now hope they would run them at least before the end of May,” he says.

The Chennai-Salem-Karur-Palani daily express, extension of Mangalore-Tiruchi Express to Puducherry, and other services announced in the budget await the formal opening of the track section to passenger trains.

Those demands could be met only with the opening of the track to passenger trains, Mr. Annadurai said.

The long-drawn project was completed a few months ago and the authorities were allowing goods trains to pass through the stretch that would reduce the travel between Karur and Salem by 35 km besides saving an hour.

An unseen political hand delaying the project, track not being certified as worthy enough, railways not completing the formalities for operating passenger trains, and rank disdain for the region on the part of the officials are some of theories doing the rounds for the delay.

Whatever be the case the Railways must come clean on the itinerary of operations, say the commuters. Traders and public of the beneficiary districts had been waiting impatiently for services to be operated on the new track for pretty long a time and when the authorities had claimed that all work had been completed, nothing except the odd goods train was moving much to the chagrin of the rail users.

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