Kochi: Certain key night trains including the newly-started independent Rajya Rani Express and the Amrita Express have no RPF patrolling facility as they pose a security threat to passengers especially when halted at isolated places to cover ‘cushion timing.’
As per new schedule, both trains are halted en-route in Thrissur-Shornur ‘B’ cabin section as they are allotted a minimum of 160 minutes to cover the sector which trains normally take just 20 minutes.
“The trains will run as per new timetable till Thrissur. However, the Palakkad division refused to ‘buy’ the trains as per the new schedule and want them to run as per the old one, citing non-availability of slots. This forced in halting the trains at isolated areas like outer stations of Wadakkanchery or Vallathol Nagar,” a source said.
“The Railway Protection Force, facing personnel shortage, failed to deploy personnel in the Rajya Rani Express. In case of Amritha Express, RPF escort is available only in a small stretch of Thrissur-Kottayam section,” he said.
Passenger associations have demanded the authorities take immediate measures to address the ‘security lapse.’
“The new timing has put passengers in a lot of difficulties. We demand RPF escort in the trains as incidents such as Soumya murder are a lesson not to leave anything for granted on the security front,” said Lyons J., secretary of ‘Friends on Rails’.
As per revised schedule, the Thiruvananthapuram-Madurai Amritha Express will leave Thiruvananthap- uram at 8.30 pm and reach Thrissur at 2.30 am. However, it would reach Ottapalam station, a distance of 40 km, only at 4.53 am.
Similarly, Rajya Rani Express would leave Kochuveli at 8.50 pm and reach Thrissur at 2.40 am. However, it arrives at Shornur Junction, nearly 35 km away, only at 5.30 am.
A majority of passengers travel to destinations like Thrissur and beyond. Post implementation, the train reaches Thrissur at odd hours (2.30 am). It will also put to the hardship a lot many commuters travelling to destinations like Palakkad and Pazhani from Thrissur. We request authorities to have re-look at the schedule,” said P. Krishnakumar, general secretary, Thrissur Railway Passengers’ Association.