Kochi: The Indian Railways is set to overhaul the timetable of hundreds of trains and withdraw financially unviable services. Train services across India are yet to resume fully after they were totally stopped in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown last year.
The Kerala government, meanwhile, shot of a letter to Ministry of Railways seeking the resumption of passenger and MEMU services, which were popular for short- and medium-haul routes, but there has been no response from the other side yet.
In the letter sent by Principal Secretary, Transport, K R Jyothi Lal on January 9, the state government had mainly demanded the resumption of unreserved trains in the state.
The demands included running of unreserved trains within the state complying with the COVID-19 safety protocol and continuing with mandatory ticket reservation for all long-distance trains.
The Railways had all these days stated that Kerala had not sought the resumption of passenger and MEMU services, hence they have not been restarted.
The Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division clarified that they had a copy of the letter would be forwarded to the Southern Railway headquarters in Chennai.
The divisional authorities have taken a stand that since the letter from the state government had gone to the Railway Board, the decision has to come by the top authorities in Delhi or Chennai.
The Thiruvananthapuram division had earlier prepared a detailed report about the sectors on which the trains have to be operated and the number of passengers likely in each sector.
The associations of rail passengers have alleged that the Railways was making profit by forcing people to buy reserved tickets when MEMU train services could be easily operated by complying with COVID-19 safety norms. To ensure social distancing norms all that needs to be done in MEMU trains is to keep the middle seat vacant.
Meanwhile, the Thrissur Railway Passenger Association has demanded that in the first phase MEMU and passenger train services should be resumed because many passengers in the state depend highly on these trains in the morning and evening.