Kochi: Southern Railway authorities have torpedoed Trivandrum Railway Division's plan to start new trains using old coaches of Kerala Express. Several old coaches, which were made at the ICF, were available for this purpose after the recent move to transform the Trivandrum-New Delhi Kerala Express with the new Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches.
Already, three of its six rakes on service have been converted and the rest is under conversion now, though the process is reportedly delayed owing to shortage of LHB power and pantry cars .
The authorities here mulled to use the freed ICF rakes of Kerala Express for starting long-pending services like Ernakulam-Rameswaram, Mangolre Jn-Rameswaram and Kochuveli-Nilambur. But recent directive from Southern Railway headquarters ensured that old rakes cannot used for new services.
Railways is currently using those old coaches to replace 3 CBC (Center Buffer Coupling) rakes of Trivandrum Division. These rakes reportedly have jerks during its run due to technical issues.
The CBC problem has been a headache for the Railways for a long time. However, Western Railway based in Mumbai could rectify this issue in its Rajdhani rakes by adding rubber bushes. This improvement was done at the Coach Rehabilitation Workshop in Bhopal.
Strangely, Southern Railway, instead of sending the defective coaches of Trivandrum Division for repair, takes them to Chennai and doesn't replace them with new coaches. This clearly shows the step-motherly treatment by Southern Railway towards Kerala.
It seems that the regional authorities are not ready to provide ICF-made rakes even for Rameswaram trains which would have benefitted people of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They will connect Madurai, Palani and Rameswaram temples at one go.
The demand for Nilambur-Kochuveli Rajyarani train is a long-pending one though Railway officials, including Southern Railway general manager R K Kulshreshta and Railway board member (coaching) Mandeep Singh Bhatia, had assured Nilambur MP P V Abdul Wahab that its service would soon commence. Lack of spare coaches could be a reason for the pendency.
According to divisional officials at Trivandrum, Kochuveli yard is saturated with old and new coaches of Kerala Express and until LHB conversion is over they can't take any new trains. Passengers associations point out that it is poor planning at Trivandrum division which is creating all the problems.
Passenger associations point out that instead of parking old rakes at Kochuveli, the authorities should have shifted them to Ernakulam or Mangaluru and use them to operate the biweekly Ernakulam-Rameswaram trains announced earlier. One trip of this service could be extended to Velankanni to address a major demand from central Kerala. But the Southern Railway seems to be in no mood to allot new trains to Kerala.