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Demand for exclusive luggage van to transport curd

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Inconvenience: Traders in Uttukuli say the absence of an exclusive luggage van makes it difficult for them to send curd to Kerala.
Inconvenience: Traders in Uttukuli say the absence of an exclusive luggage van makes it difficult for them to send curd to Kerala.

Karthik Madhavan

Four to five tonnes of curd transported to various places from Uttukuli

UTTUKULI: As the Chennai-Mangalore train chugs in at the Uttukuli Railway Station, the hitherto silent place suddenly comes alive to resemble a beehive.

About two-dozen men jostle for space to load curd cans into the bogey. While a few men get on to the two sleeper-cum-goods compartments, others stand outside to lift the cans, each of which weighs about 35 kg.

All the commotion is about pushing as many cans as possible within the train’s limited stop time at the station.

On Saturday, the curd traders were quite fortunate, for they managed to load all the containers they brought to the Station. On Friday last, they could not load 10 cans (350 litres of curd) for want of space. And, such unloaded cans mean losses for the traders.

There have been many such loss-induced days for the traders, who have been suffering without space for the last eight months or so, since the Tiruchi-Mangalore Link Express gave way to the Chennai-Mangalore train.

“Ever since the Link Express was scrapped, we have been suffering without an exclusive luggage van in the train. Now all that we have are two sleeper-cum-goods compartments, where space is not enough,” rues V.S. Ponnuchamy, a curd trader.

Everyday Uttukuli traders send between four to five tonnes of curd in such containers to Kozhikode, Kannur, Palakkad, Mangalore, among other towns.

The shortage of space has to do with not just the sleeper compartments but also booking of goods in other stations.

Mr. Ponnuchamy argues that unlike Erode and Salem, where a few other Kerala-bound stop giving people more than one train to book consignments, Uttukuli has only the Chennai-Mangalore train stopping. And, that makes them entirely dependent on that one train to load curd.

He wants the authorities to either allot more space for Uttukuli luggage in the train or restore the luggage van.

That apart, the Uttukuli Station too poses some problem for the curd traders.

“With only one platform, loading operations becomes difficult when the train is on any other platform other than the first,” says A.C. Saravana Kumar, another curd trader.

Sometimes, if there is a train between the platform, where the curd is, and the train to be loaded, the traders push cans underneath the trains to load the consignments, making things difficult for them.

The traders say they want a second platform built and the existing platform extended so that the luggage vans are covered by the platform for them to easily load cans.

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