Kochi: Unlike the Chennai suburban railway, there are few takers for the first class section in MEMU trains running in the state.
This has prompted the railway authorities to take away the ‘class’ from peak-hour Alappuzha-Ernakul-am MEMU, thereby allocating more space for ordinary commuters.
“The temporary measure has been taken following complaints that the 12-coach MEMU rake is insufficient to cater to the heavy rush during morning hours,” said a senior railway official.
A team of higher officials from the division tra-velled in the Alapp-uzha-Ernakulam MEMU along with local MP A.M. Ariff on November 8 to study the complaints.
“We found a majority of passengers are women. Anyway, only a few first class tickets are being sold. Hence we decided to take way the first class and make the entire coach ‘Ladies Only’,” the official said. Besides, the two ‘Ladies Only’ coaches were shifted to the middle of the rake for easy boarding and de-boarding.
The move has been hailed by various passenger associations which are demanding extension of the measure to all MEMU trains running in the state. “We welcome the initiative taken after studying the ground reality. Now people travelling in the sector are happy. The same should be extended to all MEMUs as only a few avail of the first class facility. Often the section has few passengers while the rest of the coaches is overcrowded during peak hours,” said P. Krishnaku-mar, general secretary, Thrissur Railway Passen-gers Association.
Last month, hundreds of passengers in the Ernak-ulam-Alappuzha section protested after the railwa-ys replaced 16-coach rake formation of Alappuzha-Ernakulam passenger (No 66314) with a 12-coach MEMU rake.
“We’re not against ME-MU rakes per se. The peak-hour train, even with 16 coaches, was witnessing heavy rush and there was huge congestion. Further reducing it to 12 coaches will make the life of regular commuters miserable,” said J. Liyons, secretary, ‘Friends on Rails’.
The passenger train leaves Alappuzha at 7.25 a.m. and reaches Ernakulam Junction by 9 a.m.