KOCHI: The new Kochuveli-Banaswadi-Kochuveli Humsafar Express was flagged off from Kochuveli railway station with great fanfare the other day. But the train that was introduced to fulfil the transport requirements of people travelling between Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru doesn’t have stops in some major stations. Two such stations are Tiruvalla and Changanassery, which witness a lot of passenger traffic. Raising the issue, the passengers’ association has sent a letter to Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
According to Thomas Simon, general secretary, Western India Passenger’s Association, the train which was originally announced in the 2014 Rail Budget as a premium train does not even come under the superfast category. “Various excuses were cited for the delay and finally when it actually was launched, no stop has been slotted for the station which has maximum demand for seats to Bengaluru,” he said.
“A large number of people from in and around Tiruvalla are residing or working in Bengaluru. Many luxury buses are plying services from Tiruvalla, Pathanamthitta, Ranni and Kozhencherry to Bengaluru. A demographic analysis will reveal these people who depend upon the buses to reach their destinations in Bengaluru are passengers who can afford the premium rates of Humsafar Express,” he said.
According to him, an important fact that has to be noted is the train managed to get a space in the budget due to the persistent efforts of passengers from Pathanamthitta district. Mohit S, an engineering student, said: “A lot of students from Pathanamthitta district have to depend upon the luxury buses to travel to Bengaluru. We were hoping the launch of the new train would end our travel woes, but the Railways has poured cold water over our hopes.”
He, however, said the train timings were perfect and it would have served us well.“Tiruvalla is a ‘Class A’ station and is located in the heart of the town, which is currently celebrating its centenary as a municipality. It is an important station,” said Tobin Mathew, a Merchant Navy aspirant, whose brother works in Bengaluru.
“We had written to the Railway Ministry several times in the past. How can a city with two Medical Colleges and several mainstream hospitals, educational institutions, pilgrimage and tourist centres not attract passengers? How can such a station be deemed to be not viable? The ministry must look into the statistics available and come up with an answer,” he said.