THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Employees who depend on trains to reach office are likely to feel the pinch of the stricter attendance system the government is planning to introduce, due to erratic train schedules. For those travelling to Thiruvananthapuram, it is about the delays caused by the halts before Kochuveli station. The situation is worse on Monday and Saturday, when daily trains make way for the biweekly Banasvadi-Kochuveli Hamsafar Express. “Several people working in private companies have lost jobs due to the late schedule of trains. Government employees will face salary deduction soon,” said Liyons S, secretary of ‘Friends on Rails’, a rail passenger organisation.
The concern assumes significance in the wake of a notification issued by the general administration department on biometric punching in all offices. Salary bills will be prepared based on attendance and shortage of working hours will lead to deduction. Friends on Rails blamed the timetable of Railways, where most of the popular trains like Guruvayur-Thiruvananthapuram Intercity Express, Vanchinad Express and Kanyakumari Express reach Central station only after 10am.
The Thuravur jinx
Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) passengers who take the coastal route of Alappuzha to reach Ernakulam will be quite familiar with Thuravur railway station, located four stations before Ernakulam junction. Passengers are held up for 20-40 minutes daily in the morning and evening waiting for other trains to cross. The Alappuzha-Ernakulam Junction MEMU (66314), that is supposed to reach its destination by 9am, makes life miserable for many due to the delay at Thuravur.
“I lost two jobs in the last 10 years due to late arrival of trains to Ernakulam Junction. The new employer cuts my salary for late arrival,” said Udayakumar P K of Cherthala. The 60-year-old works in a shop at Kaloor now. He said there are others too who have been struggling to find a job after being sacked for late attendance. According to him, the Railways had promised more punctuality when passenger trains were replaced with MEMU. “The train is often overcrowded and we have to endure the wait at Thuravur, be it rain or sun,” said Udayakumar. Despite the inconvenience, train journey still continues to be the cheapest mode of transport. Travelling in a fast passenger from Cherthala to Ernakulam only costs Udayakumar `45.
Passengers approached A M Ariff, MP, with their grievances. But the Railways remained non-committal on the issue. “The punctuality of trains have improved compared to last year. Some of the delays are expected due to maintenance works and operational issues. Issues like chain pull.
Friends on Rails blamed the timetable of Railways, in which most of the popular trains like Guruvayur-Thiruvananthapuram Intercity Express, Vanchinad Express and Kanyakumari Express reach Central station only after 10am.