Passengers decry ‘downgrading’ of Chamundi Express
The graded unlocking across the State and the demand for travel has led to the gradual restoration of 32 pairs of trains in the Mysuru Railway Division in the recent days.
Of these 26 pairs of trains originate from Mysuru city and the services were resumed over a period of time after Bengaluru and a few other districts were unlocked this month.
With this, almost 50 per cent of the trains originating from Mysuru city are back on tracks after being pulled out of services due to COVID-19 last year.
Though the services of some trains resumed in the interim they were periodically withdrawn depending on the surge in the COVID-19.
While 26 pairs originating from Mysuru city connect to Bengaluru and other centres, some of the trains also include the long-distance inter-State services that have continued to receive high patronage. Railway officials said on an average 76 trains are running across the division daily whereas during the pre-COVID period, as many as 148 trains used to chug across the division daily.
Meanwhile, a section of the railway passengers are upset over what they said was ‘downgrading’ of Chamundi Express and converting it into MEMU service. K.N.Krishna Prasad, railway activist and member of Karnataka Railway Vedike, said the rake configuration of MEMU is different and it was ideal for short-distance suburban transportation and the seating capacity is less compared to conventional coaches.
“Chamundi Express was a popular service and its conversion to MEMU means less seats for passengers. Tickets can no longer be reserved as it is an unreserved service and hence tickets cannot be purchased online. So senior citizens travelling between the two cities will find it difficult to arrive early to the station and jostle with others in the queue to obtain a ticket’’, said Mr. Krishna Prasad. As the train departs early in the morning, people have to reach the station very early to obtain the ticket, he added.
However, the railway authorities said given the current situation and the uncertainty due to the pandemic, the MEMU rakes should suffice and is a prudent move for economic and operational viability. Once the pandemic situation stabilises and normalcy returns, the conventional coaches with higher seating capacity can be reintroduced, the authorities added.
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