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Protest against extension of Pallavan Express intensifies

Staff Reporter
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Agitation near Khadi Kraft witnesses people from all walks of life

united voice:Members of Rockfort and Pallavan Express Retrieval Committee staging a demonstration in Tiruchi on Wednesday demanding withdrawal of announcement of extension of Pallavan Express to Karaikudi. —photo: A. Muralitharan
united voice:Members of Rockfort and Pallavan Express Retrieval Committee staging a demonstration in Tiruchi on Wednesday demanding withdrawal of announcement of extension of Pallavan Express to Karaikudi. —photo: A. Muralitharan

Condemning the railway administration’s decision to extend Pallavan Express to Karaikudi, people under the banner Rockfort and Pallavan Express Retrieval Committee staged a demonstration here on Wednesday opposing the announcement.

Cutting across party lines, functionaries of several political parties extended their solidarity to the issue by joining the demonstration organised near Khadi Kraft.

The collective agitation, in which trading community, farmers’ organisations, consumer and service organisations, and residents’ welfare associations participated, was headed by retrieval committee coordinators Ve. Govindarajlu and M. Sekaran.

While decrying the railway administration for its announcement on extending Pallavan Express, the demonstrators demanded withdrawal of the decision besides seeking the operation of Rock Fort Express from its original destination – Tiruchi.

The demonstration was organised following a decision taken at the retrieval committee’s consultative meeting held in the city last month to express anguish over the railway administration’s announcement.

Members of political parties, including the DMK, Congress, BJP, CPI, CPI-M, Pattali Makkal Katchi, DMDK, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Puthiya Tamizhagam, Indian Union Muslim League, and the Bahujan Samaj Party took part.

The committee said the Railways had over the years extended various trains originating from Tiruchi with full patronage to different destinations without assigning any valuable reasons except to satisfy some politicians.

The recent announcement on extension of Pallavan Superfast Express to Karaikudi, running with full patronage from Tiruchi to Chennai and back, without making any alternative arrangement to meet the demand of the passengers from Tiruchi and its neighbouring districts, including Thanjavur and Ariyalur, had shocked the rail users from these districts.

If the Railways indeed wanted to provide service to the people of Karaikudi, it should operate a new train at a convenient time to meet the ever increasing demand and provide adequate seats to unreserved passengers as well.

The decision to extend Pallavan Express to Karaikudi had been arbitrarily taken by the railway administration as per their “whims and fancy” without considering the present requirement, the committee claimed.

Karaikudi being a wayside station had neither infrastructure facility for cleaning and maintenance of locos and coaches nor proper security arrangements to maintain a vigil on the stationary coaches and engine.

The extension of the train would in no way help the people of Karaikudi if the present departure and arrival timings were maintained as the rail users of that town would have to board the train in the wee hours and alight at the late hours. The committee also wanted the railway administration to provide sufficient coaches to unreserved passengers or restrict the sale of tickets only to the capacity of seats available.

Later, the committee members submitted a memorandum containing their demands to Divisional Railway Manager Manjula Rangarajan at the latter’s office here.

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