Direct train from Visakhapatnam to Varanasi remains a far cry

Picture used for representational purposes only. File

Picture used for representational purposes only. File | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

Notwithstanding the demand for introduction of a direct train from Visakhapatnam to Varanasi for the past several years, the authorities concerned have been dodging the issue on the plea of non-availability of platforms, path constraints and operational issues

When the demand for introduction of a direct train from Visakhapatnam to Varanasi came up at the Inter Railway Time Table Committee (IRTTC) meeting held during 2017, the Railways were averse to it on the plea of lack of parking facilities and platform constraints. The Railway Board had, however, agreed, at the same meeting, to extend the Varanasi – Sambalpur bi-weekly express to Visakhapatnam as there would be no path constraints. The Board had even agreed to allocate an additional rake required for the purpose.

The CPTMs of all intermediate railway zones had agreed to the idea and it was announced that the train would originate from Visakhapatnam within six months. The Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway (E Co R), which had extended the popular trains from Secunderabad and Bengaluru, which were terminating in Visakhapatnam, to Bhubaneswar in the past, had failed to show the same zeal in extending the Varanasi – Sambalpur express to Visakhapatnam. The lack of initiative from the railway officials was said to have resulted in the proposal failing to take off after more than five years after the announcement.

On November 30, 2019, in response to an RTI query from Duvvada Railway User’s Association representative K. Eswar, on the latest status on the announcement made by the then Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on September 26, 2019 on running a new train from Visakhapatnam to Varanasi, the E Co R headquarters in Bhubaneswar replied that a request was made to the Railway Board on the same day for extension of train no. 18311/12 (Sambalpur-Manduadih-Sambalpur) bi-weekly to Visakhapatnam.

BJP leader and ZRUCC Member N. Gajapathi Rao in a letter to the then Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in October 2019, had alleged that E Co R had deliberately recommended the Visakhapatnam-Subedarganj special train via Bhubaneswar, which was 240 km longer, and takes an additional six hours longer, instead of routing it through Raipur, Bilaspur and Katni.

The ‘Suvidha’ special express fare was very high, and all these were meant to discourage patronage to the special express, he had alleged. It is a different matter that the special train was withdrawn later.

It is high time the elected MPs from Visakhapatnam region take up the issue with the railways and ensure that dedicated trains from Visakhapatnam to Varanasi and Bengaluru, which were announced in the past, are cleared at the next IRTTC meeting.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 9:42:55 am |