: Four of the nine long-distance Express trains from the State to metros and major cities and two services using Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) announced in the last Railway Budget are likely to remain on paper when Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi presents the 2012-13 Railway Budget on March 14.

This is the first time in the history of the State that the Railways has not been able to commence services of the sanctioned trains in the budget, said sources.

“There have been instances when trains were flagged off in the last minute using makeshift rakes. But, time is short and it is now certain that the trains would not commence services before the budget is presented in Parliament,” they told The Hindu .

Train no: 22207/22208 Bi-weekly AC Duronto Express in the Chennai- Thiruvananthapuram Central section; 19261/19262 Porbander- Kochuveli Express and Howrah- Mangalore Vivek Express via Palakkad are the trains that are yet to begin services. 

The Janam Bhoomi Gaurav tourist train on the Chennai- Puducherry- Tiruchirapalli-Madurai- Kanyakumari- Thiruvananthapuram- Chennai sector is also yet to run.

The trains announced in the budget figured in the railway timetable 2011 with timings and train numbers. 

Saturation of the railway network and shortage of rakes are cited as the main reasons for the delay in introducing the trains.

The commencement of MEMU services, which would have benefitted short distance commuters, on the Kollam- Ernakulam- Kollam and Kollam- Nagercoil- Kollam stretches, has been delayed for several reasons.

One of the rakes that arrived in Ernakulam was taken back to the headquarters of the zonal railway.

The rake had only eight cars and the services could not replace passenger trains operating with 14 to 15 coaches. Another problem is cleaning as all the cars had been provided with toilets as per the directive of the former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The railways had announced in July 2011 that 66302/66303 Kollam- Ernakulam- Kollam MEMU and the 66304/66305 Kollam- Nagercoil- Kollam MEMU would operate six days a week.

The main hurdle was the delay in completing the maintenance-car shed in Kollam, a Railway official said.

Lack of automatic signals and network saturation are the other hurdles faced by the Railways in operating more MEMU services as in other places. The Thiruvananthapuram- Kollam section is 120 per cent saturated. The figure for Ernakulam- Kayamkulam (via Alappuzha) is 140 per cent, and via Kottayam 160 per cent. The Ernakulam- Thrissur section is saturated by 118 per cent.

Neglect by Railways has been a constant refrain in Kerala. As the Railway Budget 2012 nears, The Hindu takes stock of the situation across the State to see how far Kerala's rail travel dreams have become a reality, where they still remain unfulfilled and why.

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