Kochi: Amid allegations of Tamil Nadu lobby scuttling rail projects in Kerala, attempts have been made to extend the Rajdhani Express connecting New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram to Kanyakumari.
It was said that union minister of state for road transport, highways and shipping Pon. Radhakrishnan, the lone BJP MP from Tamil Nadu representing the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency, is behind the move to extend the service to Kanyakumari.
The Rajadhani services that link New Delhi to the state capitals operate thrice a week from Thiruvananthapuram. Kerala has been demanding the railways to run the train on a daily basis. Rajadhani, the premium superfast service, has been one of the most preferred trains among politicians and people’s representatives in the state.
It was alleged that instead of extending the Rajdhani Express connecting Delhi and Chennai to Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu is trying to grab a share of the services allotted to Kerala.
There are indications that the service would eventually be extended to Madurai.
This will happen at the expense of passengers boarding from Thiruvananthapuram as the station stands to lose privileges such as the emergency quota facility which is confined to stations from where trains originate.
Ironically, rail passengers’ associations and people’s representatives in Tamil Nadu have never entrained Kerala’s requests for extension of train services to destinations close to the state borders such as Coimbatore, Nagercoil, Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli.
At the same time, trains such as the Parasuram Express, Jayanti Janta Express, Bilaspur Express, Hapa Express, and Dadar Express, that used to operate between Thiruvananthapuram and different parts of the country, were gradually extended to Nagercoil, Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli by exerting pressure on the railways.
If the MPs from Kerala fail to act, the state would lose another train to the Tamil Nadu lobby. The proposal, which was submitted immediately after new minister of railways Piyush Goyal took charge, is indeed a warning signal to the state.
Pon Radhakrishan was also the mastermind behind the move to transfer major railway sections under the Thiruvananthapuram division to Madurai and set up a new division in Tirunelveli by bifurcating the former.