BENGALURU: The move by the South Western Railway Zone to convert the conventional coaches of the Chamundi Express, hugely popular among office goers between Mysuru and Bengaluru, has not gone down well with commuters.
The operations of this train was relaunched on Thursday (June 17) along with many other passenger trains to restore normalcy in train operations after the second wave of the pandemic.
However, the reduction of the 21-coach conventional coach Express to a Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) train with 16-coaches with the seating capacity almost reduced by half has shocked regulars who are demanding an immediate recall of it.
The previous train with conventional ICF coaches allowed 2000-plus seating capacity with around 1000 standing. This includes 108 Chair Car seats in each of the 18 coaches and 75 seats in the AC coach. A senior railway official said that the present train will have 1040 seating capacity with 1344 standees.
Not just the coaches, the number of the KSR Bengaluru-Mysuru-KSR Bengaluru Express has now been changed to Train no. 06569/06570 with slight change in timings. An official release said the train will depart from KSR at 6.25 pm and reach Mysuru at 9.05 pm.
It will depart at 7.00 am from Mysuru and reach KSR at 9.30 am. and will stop at Kengeri, Bidadi, Ramanagaram, Channapatna, Maddur, Mandya, Yeliyur and Pandavapura in both directions.
The new train will be a fully unreserved one while the previous train had three reserved coaches.
Mysuru Ralway Forum member S Yogendra, said, "Garment employees, those working in many government offices in Bengaluru, the High Court are among others who daily commute between Mysuru and Bengaluru. We really need more seats for a three-hour journey. We really hope this is a temporary one."
The train always ran jam-packed before Covid, he added. "The Railways introduced a special train for similar timings and the Viswamanava Express to ease some of the pressure on this train," he explained.
Speaking on behalf of many commuters, Yogendra said, "Chamundi Express is serving Mysuru for decades. As Mysureans, we are emotionally attached to it. Now this iconic train has been downgraded to a MEMU."
V Jayanth, a regular commuter between Bidadi and Mandya, pointed out that the number of toilets are much lesser in this train and this will pose a problem when occupancy picks up.
A senior railway official said that this arrangement was likely to be a permanent one and done on instructions from the SWR Headquarters (Hubballi) Mysuru Divisional Railway Manager Rahul Agarwal told The New Indian Express, "The conversion to MEMU coach train has ensured quicker acceleration and deceleration when running the train. Commuters will save 20 minutes now when commuting from Mysuru to Bengaluru and 10 minutes in the reverse direction.
Also there will be no need to go in for engine reversal at both the Bengaluru and Mysuru end which we did after every trip earlier in the conventional train."