Many trains yet to be restored in Madurai division

Even several months after lifting of COVID-related restrictions, Southern Railway is yet to restore at least nine train services that were highly patronised in southern districts.

Among them are Tirunelveli-Erode/Mayiladuthurai day express and Rameswaram-Kanniyakumari Express, two popular trains that connected several districts. Similarly, the afternoon pair of Madurai-Rameswaram passenger train and one pair of Madurai-Shencottah passenger train, which run for more than 160 km, have not been restored.

“People prefer train journey as it is safer, economical and comfortable compared to road travel,” said B. Jagadeesan, president, Chamber of Commerce, Ramanathapuram.

Traders would prefer to travel to Madurai in the afternoon to buy materials in the wholesale market and return in the night or early morning train the next day. “Besides, it is more convenient as passengers can get into the heart of Madurai city unlike in bus travel which necessitates another bus journey from Mattuthavani MGR Bus Stand to reach Masi streets,” he said.

Similarly, Rameswaram-Kanniyakumari express train used to get good patronage as pilgrims and tourists could travel from one tourist spot to another overnight, Mr. Jagadeesan said.

Traders, who travelled to Tenkasi for buying logs would use this train to go there via Tirunelveli, he added.

Tirunelveli-Erode/Mayiladuthurai Express used to be very popular as it connected many districts. “People who travelled in large numbers, especially with elderly people and small children, preferred this train for the comfort. Besides, the toilet facility was helpful for long-distant journeys,” said V. Venkatachalam, member of Madurai Divisional Rail Users’ Consultative Committee.

Similarly, Chennai Egmore-Thoothukudi link express (linked with Guruvayur Express) has also not been restored. This train used to provide an additional, day-time rail connectivity to people of Thoothukudi to reach Madurai, Tiruchi and Chennai.

Another link express — Coimbatore-Thoothukudi-Coimbatore link express — that provided direct connectivity to western region of the State from Thoothukudi has also been not restored.

A railway source said the rakes of these trains were stabled in wayside stations like Narikudi, Sivaganga, Paramakudi and Kodai Road. “Leaving the rakes idling for months together would ruin the coaches,” he added.

When railway officials were able to stop the trains at one stroke during COVID outbreak, he wondered what stopped them from running them even after several months.

“It is understood that reserved coaches were de-reserved in a phased manner to provide accommodation to passengers who had booked their seats much in advance. With regard to passenger train the railway officials have no such limitation,” he added.

Similarly, non-operation of the trains is leading to under-utilisation of tracks, rakes and also manpower available with Railway Board.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2022 6:46:56 pm |