Anxiety over the safety of railway coaches is growing among thousands of railway passengers, following derailments of bogies in Alappuzha and Changanassery in a span of two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Southern Railway officials in Thiruvananthapuram have informed their inability to provide safer coaches, due to tardy responses from authorities in Chennai.
Southern Railways Area Manager P L Ashok Kumar informed that there is a shortage of about 10 to 15 coaches each week.
“Every week, we send nearly 22 coaches for repair to Tiruchi. It takes months to get it repaired. We are helpless in this regard.” He admitted that only old coaches are returned to Thiruvananthapuram.
“We send old coaches in the hope of getting new ones. However, on most occasions, we only get the old ones back, repaired.” The shortage of additional coaches in the Thiruvananthapuram division is yet another problem. “We are in need of nearly 50 extra coaches and on most occasions, none are available.
On such occasions, passengers are on the receiving end.
Somedays, we are forced to replace air-conditioned coaches with sleeper ones,” the officials rued.
All- Kerala Railway Users Association president K J Paul Manvattom stated that the ‘step-motherly attitude’ of the railways towards Kerala should end.
“Until now, there were only rumours that the bogies were of bad quality.
However, the recent incidents are proof of the apathy shown by the railways towards the passengers in Kerala.” No Pantry Car in Okha Exp
With the shortage of coaches hitting the Thiruvananthapuram Division hard, the Rameswaram-Okha Express has been running without a pantry car for the past two weeks.
“The pantry car has been hauled to Chennai for maintenance and we do not have a spare car,” said railway officials.
“It is not possible to carry food for a three-day journey. The passengers have no choice but to purchase food and water from outside.”