Passengers demand resumption of all rail services
Even as Railways claim to have resumed over 96% of services in Kerala following easing of the COVID-19 curbs, passenger associations are demanding that the rest of the services, including passenger trains, be resumed for the benefit of office-goers and regular commuters.
The Thrissur Railway Passengers Association and other passenger bodies have been seeking restoration of all MEMU and short-distance services as commercial and other activities are getting back on track.
“The Thiruvananthapuram railway division informed us that running of unreserved passenger and MEMU services is under consideration. Officials say unreserved ticketing for MEMU and passenger trains will be restored only with the permission of the Railway Board,” says P. Krishnakumar, general secretary.
Sources said only the Central Railway had fully restored services in high-demand corridors. The Railway Board ought to take a call on the demand from commuters in other areas, especially for unreserved travel. In Mumbai and Chennai, suburban services had been resumed, while reservation was being insisted for all other trains.
In Kerala, the Jansatabdhi Express trains via Kottayam and Alappuzha are operating, with reserved seats as per the norm. In addition, reservation is mandatory for Vanchinad Express and Venad Express which office-goers and regular commuters depend on.
The advantage is that everyone gets seats, in keeping with physical distancing norms. A few MEMU services too have resumed service, they said.
On criticism that Railways are levying much more than the regular fare for special trains in busy corridors, sources said 50% of the regular fare was added to the cost of tatkal tickets.
For the rest, ₹10 was being charged as reservation fee.
More general coaches were being allotted on express trains, depending on demand. Occupancy on most trains was improving.
Aimed at combating COVID-19, railway personnel were now empowered to collect ₹500 for improper wearing of face mask or for spitting on railway premises.
In the meantime, all passenger reservation system centres in the Thiruvananthapuram division will function only single shift, ie. from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, on account of Thiruvonam, the division informed.