A tourist lounge with several modern facilities is being planned at Ernakulam Junction Station. However, just like most promises made in the past for the ‘proposed world class railway station’, this tourism lounge may also fail to see the light of the day.
According to sources with the Kerala Tourism Department Corporation (KTDC) which initiated the ‘tourist friendly station’ concept, the lack of co-operation from the Railways is delaying the project.
“It has been over two months since we submitted the proposal to the Divisional Railway Manager in Thiruvananthapuram. However, despite constant reminders, there has been no positive response,” he said.
The tourism lounge is a pilot project of the Kerala government which includes facilities like a tourist information centre, locker facilities, souvenir shops, wi-fi facilities, rest rooms and online booking centres. The ideal place for the lounge has been identified at the entrance of the station.
“There are hundreds of tourists using railway stations as a connecting link to other destinations. Once this comes up, tourists can have easy access to the best facilities all at one location, similar to the stations in foreign countries,” the tourism official said. “However, without the go-ahead of the railways, we cannot move forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources added that the lounge plan clashes with the master plan of the proposed world class station at Ernakulam. “As per the design, a tourist lounge would require more space contrary to the current space identified by the tourism officials,” sources added.
World Class Facility Soon
Even though the Ernakulam Junction Station was proposed to be converted into a world class facility since the last three budgets, it is yet to be realised. According to Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal, the blue print has been finalised and the project will become a reality soon. However, according to sources with the Railways, basic amenities and not world class facilities are the need of the hour at the station which sees thousands of passengers commuting on a daily basis.
“We are not asking for a world class station. We are only looking for basic facilities so that the railway staff and passengers are comfortable. The reservation passengers don’t even have a waiting room. There is plenty of space inside the station which can be converted for these facilities at least on a temporary basis,” said SRMU Divisional President P Unnikrishnan.
Meanwhile, the plight of the information centre at the station is the most pitiable of all. Passengers who wish to avail information have hardly any space for standing. Some of them are forced to enter the cabins and demand to know the train timings. In spite of a microphone fitted at the centre to inform the passengers about their train timings, it is hardly of much use.