KOLLAM: The schedule of trains on the recently reopened Kollam-Punalur railway section has come as a disappointment for a section of commuters living in the eastern areas of the district, who were jubilant when the line was commissioned after conversion to broadgauge.
Office-goers and students commuting to Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha and Kottayam from the Punalur side say the schedule does not benefit them either in the morning or in the evening. It leaves them with no connecting train from Kollam.
They say the first train from Punalur leaves at 8.20 a.m. to reach Kollam at 9.45 a.m. By that time, trains from Kollam to either direction will have left. They demand a train that reaches Kollam by 8.15 a.m.
They suggest that if the Kollam-Kottayam shuttle train is rescheduled to start from Punalur, much of the problem will be solved.
At present, the train starts from Kollam at 8 a.m. Without altering that, the train can start from Punalur. The Kottayam-Kollam shuttle service, which now reaches Kollam at 7.45 p.m., can be extended up to Punalur. This will help those who commute to Thiruvananthapuram or Kottayam.
S. Ulhaskumar, president of the Railway Passengers' Association, says the schedule seems to have been prepared to suit the interests of the Railway employees rather than the commuters.
He says that if a train has to leave before 7 a.m. from Punalur, a loco pilot and a guard will have to stay in Punalur overnight. The schedule has been prepared to “avoid this inconvenience,” he adds.
Under the present schedule, the train leaves Kollam at 6.30 a.m. and reaches Punalur at 7.55 a.m. In the return direction, the train leaves Punalur at 8.20 a.m.
The last train for Punalur leaves Kollam at 5.30 p.m. and reaches the destination at 6.55 p.m. The train starts its return journey at 7.30 p.m.
Since the last train for Punalur leaves Kollam at 5.30 p.m., it again does not benefit a good majority of commuters because most trains from Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam sides arrive at Kollam after 5.30 p.m.
Similarly, office-goers from Kollam side working at Punalur and other eastern parts of the district have no convenient train to ferry them back.
People say that without a commuter-friendly schedule, Railways' revenue expectations from the section will be unrealised. Alteration of the schedule to suit the convenience of the commuters will bring good revenue, they add.