Kochi The Southern Railway's move to advance the time of the popular Madurai-bound Amrita Express by two hours to avail of 'adequate' traffic block time is giving jitters to the regular passengers.
According to senior divisional officials, the change is being effected to facilitate pending track renewal works at night. "The preponement will result in no major traffic for over three hours, facilitating track renewal and inspection works in the central region during night," they said.
However, the change in timing to be effective from May 9 when Rajyarani Express will operate as an independent train will result in at least seven trains staring from Thiruvananthapuram central towards northern direction mostly at a gap of just 15 minutes till 8.30 p.m. But then, there is a three-hour gap for the next train (Chennai-Egmore -- Guruvayur Express at 11.20 pm).
Currently, Amrita Express departs at 10 p.m. from Thiruvananthpauram central to reach Madurai junction at 1.10 p.m. the next day. However, even after preponement, the train will reach the destination only at 12.15 noon the next day, a saving of only 55 minutes despite it starting the journey one-and-a-half hours in advance.
"The majority of commuters of the train travel to destinations like Thrissur and beyond. Post- implementation, the train will reach Thrissur at odd hours (2.30 a.m). It will also cause trouble to many commuters travelling to destinations like Palakkad and Pazhani from Thrissur. We request the authorities to take a re-look at the schedule," said Mr P. Krishnakumar, general secretary, Thrissur Railway Passengers Association.
The real nightmare for commuters will start beyond Thrissur when the train huffs and puffs to cover the remaining distance. It will take 160 minutes to cover the section from Thrissur to Shornur 'B' cabin which normally, trains cover in just 20 minutes.
"This is because the Palakkad division refused to "buy" the train as per new schedule and want it to run in the old one, citing non-availability of slot. "Night operation is yet to be implemented on a regular basis in the Palakkad-Pollachi section," they said.
The authorities, however, admitted that any change in the new schedule would be implemented only in the next 'Time Table' release, which will consume over 10 months....