BENGALURU: The recently introduced special Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train service from the city to Ramanagaram has been eliciting poor response, much to the dismay of railway authorities. Unless, there is more public patronage, the service runs the risk of being stopped on its tracks.
The disappointing response has railway officials stumped as the service was introduced in the face of an overwhelming public demand for it.
The Bengaluru City-Ramanagaram DEMU Special (No. 06540) runs on all days of the week except Sundays. It leaves the City railway station at 4.30 pm and reaches Ramanagaram station at 5.40 pm.
The train has stoppages at Krishnadevaraya, Nayandahalli, Jnana Bharathi, Kengeri, Hejjala, Bidadi and Ketohalli stations in both directions.
As per information available from the time the train made its first run on June 9, till July 20, it has witnessed a mere 45 per cent seating occupancy in the onward direction. The return trip at 6.35 pm from Ramanagaram to the City station, which reaches at 7.50 pm, saw an occupancy rate of around 28 per cent.
The percentages have been calculated on the basis of the seating capacity of 540 in the seven coaches and one half of the eighth coach (power car coach) allotted for passengers.
Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Sanjiv Agarwal conceded that he did not expect such poor response.
“There was a long-standing demand for this service and I expected the train to be packed to capacity when it leaves the city. The lack of rush in the return service from Ramanagaram was anticipated to some extent,” he said.
After the departure of the Tippu Express (at 3 pm) and the Chamarajnagar Express (at 3.30 pm) from the station, there is a gap of two hours and 45 minutes before the Chamundi Express leaves at 6.15 pm.
“There was huge public demand to have at least one service in the intervening period as many had to wait for long for the Chamundi Express and this prompted us to launch this DEMU service.”
The DRM said they will wait a little more to see if the service picks up or if the train timing needs to be revised so that more commuters can make use of it.
Divisional Operations Manager Soundararajan said the DEMU service will eventually be withdrawn if this trend continues.
“If this scenario continues, what is the point in running the service?” he asked.
“It does not make sense to run an entire train with such less occupancy,” Soundararajan added.
Additional Divisional Railway Manager Sunanda Arul felt the service had just commenced its run and must be given more time to become popular.
Officials were also contemplating giving it wide publicity to help it get a better crowd.