Kerala’s second Vande Bharat Express to run between Mangaluru and Kochuveli

Thrissur: The much-awaited second Vande Bharat Express train in Kerala will be operated between Mangalore Central and Kochuveli railway stations, a top official told Onmanorama on condition of anonymity.

The service, to be operated by the Palakkad Railway Division, will commence once the maintenance line in Mangalore Central is ready, the person said.

As per the current plan, work related to providing overhead electrical equipment (OHE) in one of the three pit lines – Attavar entry side – at Mangaluru Central is nearing completion.

Another official said the final work to convert the pit line into a maintenance line exclusively for the Vande Bharat rakes will be completed in a couple of days.

The maintenance line is used for electrical and mechanical inspection; cleaning and washing; and to carry out repairs, if required.

“The Railway Board will officially announce the date of commencing the service once work of the maintenance line and training of Vande Bharat rake operators are completed. As per the plans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the service, possibly within the next 10 days,” a top official said.

The official said that a team of experienced operators are undergoing special training in Chennai to operate Vande Bharat rakes since the third week of August.

However, when contacted, top officials from the Palakkad railway division refused to comment on the development. “All we can confirm, at present, is that the 31st rake manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai is allotted to Palakkad railway division and it is going to be an eight-car Express in the initial stage. The commencement of the service will be informed well in advance after receiving consent from the Prime Minister's Office, Railways Ministry and Railway Board,” the officer said.

Currently, the rakes allotted to the Palakkad division are stationed at the Chennai Basin Bridge Yard. They would be deployed to the Southern Railway and then to the Palakkad division after receiving the Railway Board’s direction, sources said.

The current Vande Bharat Express in Kerala between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod is operated by the Thiruvananthapuram railway division. “We already have separate pit lines in Thiruvananthapuram Central and Kochuveli Railway Station to carry out the maintenance works. Currently, the Railways bring workers and technicians from Mangalore Central to Kasaragod for the same, which is costly, time-consuming and a waste of human resources,” said a source from the Thiruvananthapuram railway division.

The Southern Railways had announced a revision of timings of various trains including the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express, and Thiruvananthapuram-Kannur Jan Shatabdi Express and short-terminated various passenger services in the route, possibly to accommodate the new Vande Bharat Express service, a member of the passenger association said.

The Vande Bharat Express that runs on the Kasaragod-Thiruvananthapuram route is the best-performing one in the country with an average occupancy of 183 per cent, followed by the Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod service with an average occupancy of 176 per cent.

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