70 minutes snipped off rail journey to Kanyakumari. Now, the train will leave at 8 p.m. from Bangalore and reach Kanyakumari at 3.15 p.m.
बेंगुलुरु Bangalore (SBC): The reduction of travel time from Bangalore to Kanyakumari by 70 minutes, beginning September 1, has been welcomed by many rail passengers. Some, however, feel that this can be achieved only if the train cuts down on the number of stops.
According to the new timings, the train will leave at 8 p.m. from the city and reach Kanyakumari at 3.15 p.m.
Tinu Cherian, a social media professional, who travels by the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express regularly, said the Railway authorities claim to have reduced travel time by increasing the speed. But until it cuts back on halts at smaller stations, the time cannot be reduced, especially for those going to Thiruvananthapuram.
Officials in the South Western Railway said no stops had been eliminated on this route but said the train’s travel time had been reduced by decreasing buffer time (trains maintain this to use as a back up to catch up on the lost time).
The time was also reduced by getting the train to travel on sections that have been electrified and where lines have been doubled.
K.N.Krishnaprasad, a retired Union government employee, said passengers must look out for names of stations on the timetable. If the names have asterisks, it means that the train would stop there at present but pass by them any time depending on a decision taken by the Railways. According to the Southern Zone Timetable, there are 22 stations with asterisks on the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express (16526) route and four stations on the Kanyakumari-Bangalore City (16525) route.
Mr. Sadhu said, “No stop had been withdrawn.” The names of stations, with an asterisk, were “temporary stops”. It meant that the train would continue to halt there for now, but may not stop after six months.
The decision to stop at a station or pass by depends on whether it is commercially viable. For instance, at least 35 tickets must be sold at that particular station everyday for the train to stop there.
A problem that passengers hope will be mitigated is of office-goers streaming into coaches at Palakkad and alighting at Ernakulam.
Mr. Cherian said when he wakes up in the morning at Palakkad, all seats in the coach are occupied by office-goers. He said, “I get down from my upper berth only after Ernakulam, where they leave the coach.”
Another passenger, Yamini Nair, who travels regularly, said, “The office-goers ask passengers with reservation to wake up and vacate berths, ignoring the fact that we have a longer journey.”