COIMBATORE With the growing demand for more train services for Coimbatore, the Southern Railway is mulling expansion of railway stations here, its General Manager B.G. Mallya said.
He told The Hindu that an official survey for this is likely to be planned at the divisional level.
Sources at the Salem Division said that while there are constraints to lay additional lines as Coimbatore junction is land-locked on all four sides, extension of services of some of the trains may be considered.
Meanwhile, Coimbatore MP P.R Natarajan said he spoke to railway officials on Tuesday about using existing tracks in Coimbatore North and Podanur for extension of services to Coimbatore, if there are bottlenecks at Coimbatore junction.
‘Trains parked for over 10 hours’
In a reply to an RTI filed by Kongu Railway Development Council Director K.S. Ramakrishnan, the Salem Railway Division said 34 trains originate at the Coimbatore junction and eight trains start from Mettupalayam.
Mr. Ramakrishnan said that of the six platforms at the junction, four are used for parking trains for several hours — some halt for over 17 hours — and only platforms I and II are constantly operational. These trains could be extended to Pollachi, Podanur and even other districts in the southern region.
For instance, Chemmozhi Express (16615) arrives at Coimbatore Junction at 4.45 a.m, remains parked for 17.5 hours and leaves for Mannargudi at 12.45 a.m the next day, he said. If this could be extended to Rameshwaram till 3 p.m. and returns to Coimbatore at 9.30 p.m. based on rake-sharing arrangement, passengers can benefit, he suggested.
Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee (DRUCC) member J Sathish said they hoped for new train services by February 2023, when Coimbatore junction will be celebrating 150 years. Eight more platforms can be added to the existing ones at Podanur, Coimbatore junction, and Coimbatore north, he said.
An official at the Salem Division said that most trains that are parked for 10 hours undergo maintenance works in the coach depots here and locomotive sheds in Erode. Further, if the trains are extended to other districts, there may be a delay while returning and so to avoid such difficulties, the services are not extended currently, the official said.
Mr. Natarajan said he also urged officials to add Pollachi and Kinathukadavu stations that are under Palakkad division under the Salem Division and increase the frequency of services towards southern districts from Coimbatore and at Mettupalayam station.
He said public meetings will be held on September 28, 29 and 30 in Pollachi, Coimbatore and Mettupalayam and a protest will be staged on October 3 in the three stations, if demands are not met.