VISAKHAPATNAM: The bypassing of the major A-1 grade station Visakhapatnam Junction by the newly launched 22877/22878 Ernakulam-Howrah Antyodaya Express (weekly) is drawing flak on Twitter. The train began its maiden run from Ernakulam on Monday after the Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the first Antyodaya Express – a long distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service – between Kochi’s Ernakulam Junction and Howrah Junction through video conferencing from Rail Bhavan in New Delhi.
Duvvada Railway Users Association secretary K.Eswar had sent a representation to MP K.Haribabu and the latter forwarded the same to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking consideration of a stoppage for Antyodaya Express at Visakhapatnam, before its launch by the Railways. “We fear that the same fate will be encountered by the Division for Tejas and UDAY Expresses which are about to be launched soon”, he said.
It is even more surprising that a long distance train covering a distance of 2,307 kilometres spanning around 37 hours does not have a halt at Visakhapatnam – an important A1 Grade station enroute, he questioned. Railways have declared stoppages for Antyodaya Express at Thrisur, Palakkad, Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Jolarpettai, Katpadi, Renigunta, Ongole, Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Duvvada, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam Road, Palasa, Brahmapur, Khurda Road, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrak, Balasore and Kharagpur. However, it is surprising how they missed Visakhapatnam – an important emerging Metro City on the East Coast which is also one of the strategic Defence and Port city of India.
Mr.Eswar says the stoppages are given by the Railways on the recommendations of the Zonal Railway authorities and East Coast Railway (ECoR) had conveniently ignored Visakhapatnam again in this exercise. Mr.Haribabu had also written to the Railway Minister in the past that a major station could not be skipped by a passing train just to reduce the running time.
“A couple of weeks ago, I had to travel from Renigunta to Visakhapatnam by the Howrah-Mysuru superfast weekly express as I could not get accommodation in Tirumala or the special train, though I had tried for berths 15 days in advance,” says a passenger from Vizag, who travelled by that train.
“Though I got a ‘waitlisted’ ticket, I was told that I would get accommodation and finally on the day of journey my berth was confirmed. But the problem is this train arrives around 10 a.m. at Renigunta and reaches Vizag around midnight”.
“The whole day and night is wasted in this train as it is being unduly delayed after Rajahmundry. It was not being given priority. When special trains and Suvidha trains were taking around 12 hours, this train can also be speeded up so that it reaches Vizag by 10 p.m. so that people can have a good night’s sleep at home and begin their day early,” the passenger says.