Passengers demand resumption of train services to north Malabar

More trains will begin operations from Nov. 10, says Railway

Even though life has become normal after the government relaxed the norms following a dip in COVID-19 cases, the Palakkad division of Southern Railway is yet to restart all the passenger train services, creating innumerable problems for the people, especially those commuting for work.

In contrast, the Thiruvananthapuram railway division has already started several passenger trains and MEMU services. On the other hand, the Palakkad division has started just three passenger trains and two MEMU services from Kannur.

There were 11 passenger trains that were operated by the division prior to the spread of COVID. However, following the outbreak, the services were stopped.

According to senior Railway officials, more than 6,000 season tickets were issued at the Kannur station a month before the COVID-19 outbreak. There was an equal number, or even more number of passengers, who travelled on current or reserved tickets everyday, especially to towns in Kozhikode, Kannur, and Kasaragod districts.

However, the numbers have gone down drastically due to the non-availability of trains and fewer than 2,000 people now buy season tickets.

Dinu Mottammal, coordinator of the North Malabar Railway Passengers’ Coordination Committee, said that owing to the COVID outbreak, many trains had been redesignated as special trains and were charging exorbitant fares.

Mr. Mottammal said that passengers were forced to queue up for long to buy tickets. Even during the rush hours, the Railway officials were not ready to open more counters. Similarly, increasing the platform tickets fare from ₹10 to ₹50 had further burdened the people, who came to see off their loved ones, he said.

Mohammed Nizar Peruvad, president of the Kumbala Railway Passengers’ Association, Kasaragod, said that just one train with unreserved coaches was being run towards Kasaragod and Mangaluru. Most other trains with unreserved coaches and MEMU that had been allowed in recent months, end their services at Kannur.

He said that many government employees and teachers working in Kasaragod arrived by train, especially from Kannur district. However, in the absence of train services, they were forced to buy reserved tickets every time or travel by road.

Similarly, students studying in education institutions in Kasaragod and Mangaluru relied on these trains. As a result, roads were now flooded with vehicles and traffic blocks had become a daily occurrence, he said.

He said trains there were no unreserved compartments in Mangaluru-Chennai Egmore Express, Malabar Express, Mangaluru-Chennai Superfast, and Ernad Express, which had huge patronage by commuters during the peak hours.

Similarly, the services from Charvathur to Mangaluru and Mangaluru to Kozhikode should be resumed. However, there was no response to all the pleas sent to the Railway authorities and the Member of Parliament, he said.

Meanwhile, M.K. Gopinath, Public Relations Officer, Palakkad division, said that the Railway would resume the train services in a phased manner. A few more trains would be begin services from November 10, he said.

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