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Uncertainty over new Jan Shatabdi

Biju Govind

Kozhikode: Uncertainty prevails over the introduction of the proposed five-day-a-week Kozhikode-Thiruvananthapuram Jan Shatabdi Express through Kottayam.

Worries about securing rakes from the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, is inadvertently delaying the train service that was announced by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee nearly 10 months ago, railway officials said.

Earlier it was announced that the train, which would help commuters from north reach the State capital fast, would begin service in October. Recently the Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed also said that the train would start operations shortly.

The proposed train is scheduled to run on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It will depart from the Kozhikode railway station at 6.15 a.m. and reach Thiruvananthapuram at 1.45 p.m. The train will leave from Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2.20 p.m. to reach Kozhikode at 10.05 p.m.

Rail passengers demand that the train should be made a daily service like the existing Thiruvananthapuram- Ernakulam Jan Shatabdi Express via Alappuzha that was extended to Kozhikode in August 2009.

But railway authorities say that the Kozhikode-Thiruvananthapuram Jan Shatabdi Express will operate only five days a week as there are no facilities at the Kozhikode station for maintenance of the engine and coaches. Kozhikode station does not have a pit lane for this purpose. The train has to be serviced at least twice a week at the Thiruvananthapuram station which.

Also, some feel that the proposed reverse Jan Shatabdi will upset the schedule of several existing trains in Ernakulam-Kottayam-Kayamkulam sector. The existing Jan Shatabdi via Alappuzha which starts from Thiruvananthapuram Central at 6 a.m. reaches Kozhikode at 1.05 p.m. It leaves Kozhikode at 1.35 p.m. and reaches Thiruvananthapuram at 8.55 p.m.

At the same time, commuters are yet to get the full benefits of the Thiruvananthapuram-Ernakulam Jan Shatabdi Express to Kozhikode due to the technical problems in the allocation in the quota and remote location system. Only the introduction of the reserve Jan Shatabdi will solve this problem, authorities said.

The problem was noticed soon after its extension and was partially rectified early this year, allotting six coaches as Kozhikode quota. But even now the train runs a few empty coaches from and to Kozhikode. Initially the quota was single with the remote location system established at Ernakulam. So if a passenger reserved a ticket from a particular station, the quota turns automatically into waiting list if booked from another station.

Reservations are usually full in the Ernakulam - Thiruvananthapuram sector and Kozhikode- Ernakulam sector. If seats are booked to capacity from Ernakulam station to Thiruvananthapuram, passengers who book tickets from Kozhikode to Ernakulam will be automatically pushed to the waiting list category.

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