Putting safety on track

'The State should provide the commuter facilities at the Kochuveli terminal'.

'The State should provide the commuter facilities at the Kochuveli terminal'.  

THE TOP-MOST priority of the Railways is to ensure safety, punctuality and proper amenities on trains and railway premises, says the Divisional Railway Manager of Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division, K. K. Srivastava.

The railways have risen to meet the challenge following a series of thefts and manhandling of commuters on trains, claims the DRM, who took over charge of the division in February. "Women constables have been deployed in some coaches and the police personnel on patrol asked to exchange notes with the Railway Protection Force on the platforms to keep them alert in the night," he says.

A native of U.P., Mr. Srivastava has undergone specialised training in the multi-modal transport and safety in rail transport at the University of Wales, Cardiff.

Besides holding several posts in the Railways, he had also served as Deputy Director General at the Army headquarters, New Delhi.

The Kerala State Women's Commission demand for shifting the women's coach from the rear end of the rake has been forwarded to the Union Railway Ministry as it involves matters of policy.

However, the railway official is in favour of retaining the coach in the rear as it is near the guard's cabin and more secure.

The railways have not reduced the number of Travelling Ticket Examiners on the trains as alleged by commuters, says the official.

"The fact is that the number of reserved coaches on a train has gone up over the years. A TTE is on duty for three coaches and this is an adequate ratio. Moreover, the majority of the coaches are reserved and do not need a TTE each."

As part of improving cleanliness, the mechanised cleaning of platforms and coaches are to be introduced soon in Thiruvananthapuram Central, he says. Touch-screen kiosks are to be set up at the station and at Ernakulam North and Thrissur.

Mr. Srivastava points out that many long-distance trains that had been extended from Ernakulam to the capital over the last three years due to pressure from several quarters do have only 30 per cent occupancy and is cause of concern for the railways.

Many long-distance trains are running empty and we cannot allow local passengers to travel in the reserved coaches while the trains are coming to the State capital.

According to him, there are adequate trains in the Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram sector now.

Although the deadline for completing electrification up to Thiruvananthapuram Central is by September, the Railways are trying to complete the project at least two months in advance. Once this is commissioned, electric traction will be available from Delhi-Chennai-Jolarpet stretch to the State capital.

All trains will be run using electric locomotives. The Union Minister, Nitesh Kumar has already written to the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony for extending the agreement for providing electricity at concessional tariff for another next three years. Mr. Srivastava, who was the Chief Operations and Commercial Manager of North Central Railway, Allahabad, earlier, says it is for the State to develop supporting infrastructure and facilities to cater to the needs of commuters once the satellite terminal comes up at Kochuveli.

"There was considerable opposition to the construction of Nizamuddin near Delhi and Kurla in the Mumbai suburbs. But, over the years the terminals have developed and people have also patronised them," Mr. Srivastava says.

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