With the Matsyagandha Express that introduced the train travel concept for most of coastal Karnataka gearing up to celebrate its Silver Jubilee, the Kundapura Railu Prayanikara Hitharakshana Samithi has planned several events and projects to mark the occasion.
Train No. 12619/620 Mumbai Lokamanya Tilak Terminus-Mangaluru Central-Mumbai LTT Matsyagandha Express was flagged off on May 1, 1998, when then Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Railway Minister George Fernandes dedicated Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., to the nation. It was the first passenger service train to run on the completed KRCL network of 741 km between Roha and Thokur near Mangaluru.
Covering nearly 900 km total within about 17 hours, the Matsyagandha was a game changer in passenger transportation along the West Coast in general and Karnataka in particular. While thousands of coastal Karnataka people were settled in Mumbai doing a host of business activities, they had to endure nearly 30 hours of a bus journey. As an alternative, they had to go to Kadur Railway Station in Chikkamagaluru district to board a Mumbai-bound train that entailed nearly 40 hours of journey.
Arriving on the Karnataka coast just before daybreak, Matsyagandha ushered in happiness among families of Mumbai returnees, created hustle-bustle at railway stations with autorickshaw and taxi operators becoming active and more, said Ganesh Puthran, president of the Kundapura Samithi. From Matsyagandha to Panchaganga (Bengaluru-Karwar-Bengaluru via Padil bypass) introduced in March 2020, the coast has seen much transformation in the passenger transportation sector, said Samithi member Gautam Shetty.
There was no doubt Matsyagandha strengthened the bond between Mumbai and Karnataka Coast, Mr. Shetty said. Hundreds of enterprising coastal people became pioneers in the Mumbai hotel industry and then spread to other business ventures.
Mr. Puthran said the samithi was planning to hold seminars and workshops on Konkan Railway’s journey, the present situation and the future plans to mark the Silver Jubilee. Besides, the samithi was getting some infrastructure improvement at Kundapura Railway Station, including interlocking road from MLA fund and digital display board, passenger shelters etc., through donors.
The samithi has urged Southern Railway that owns the train to upgrade the rakes to LHB coaches for the Silver Jubilee. At the same time, KRCL should seriously work on line doubling, modernisation of stations etc., it demanded.