KOCHI: The woes of railway passengers in the Kottayam-Ernakulam and Thrissur-Ernakulam stretches continue. The problems began with the derailment of Thiruvananthapuram-Mangaluru Express at Karukutty in August last year.
The ongoing maintenance work in the stretch has added to the already messy situation. The lackadaisical attitude of the Railways in completing the track maintenance and doubling work in the Ernakulam - Kottayam route has completely messed up the travel itinerary of the passengers.
Even six months after the Karukutty incident, inordinate delay has become the norm in the state. Also, the delay in doubling work has affected the commencement of services of the new passenger trains.
“Almost all trains including the passengers are running late by around one hour.
It is affecting the daily life of the office-goers, especially those who work in Kochi. The trains have become undependable now. The ongoing Kochi Metro work has added to our misery. We miss our regular buses when the train becomes late and have to wait for hours to catch the next,” said Praveenkumar, who is a daily commuter from Angamaly.
However, Railways has a different take on the late running of trains. Railway officials said these stretches are facing severe capacity constraints with line capacity utilisation.
Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway manager Prakash Bhutani said track maintenance and renewals are a continuous process. The Railways had replaced more than 60 km of track last year. Before considering additional train services and stoppages, Railways need to critically analyse the availability of maintenance time of track and rolling stock.
“Late running of trains between Ernakulam and Kottayam is likely to get sorted out by March end. We are waiting for the doubling work to be completed. So that Railways can also undertake maintenance work,” he said. He also said reduction in the speed of the train where doubling works are going on is a major reason behind the inordinate delay.
Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC) member Henry Austin said the panacea for late running of trains in the Ernakulam-Kottayam stretch is to complete the doubling work as quickly as possible. “Lack of an apex organisation for the passengers in the state which would bring the attention of the Railways to the issues faced by them is a major reason behind the apathy. All we have are fragmented associations in various districts,” he pointed out.