Union Minister for External Affairs V Muraleedharan responded to complaints of passengers facing severe difficulties as the scheduled trains are detained to allow Vande Bharat to pass through the routes.
The minister said that complaints would be resolved when the new railway timetable is published. The Union Minister was speaking at the Chengannur railway station during a function at which Vande Bharat was accorded a reception as it arrived there for the first time after it was allotted a stop.
“Usually, the revision of the railway timetable takes place twice a year. Vande Bharat was introduced in Kerala when the revision of the railway timetable was going on. There were two options in front of the Railways: either wait until the vision of the timetable was over to introduce Vande Bharat or make arrangements for it during the brief period available till the revision was over. I expect the problem to be fully resolved once the revision of the timetable is over. In the normal course, the revision of the railway timetable takes place every six months. The latest timetable was released on October 1. For this reason, there are concerns that it would take another 6 months for the new timetable to arrive”, Muraleedharan said.
Vande Bharat received a warm welcome at the Chengannur railway station. The train reached Chengannur at 6:53 am for the first time after the stop was allotted for it at the station. Kodikunnel Suresh, MP, was also present at the welcome function, in addition to Muraleedharan.
The Union Minister said that the stop was sanctioned for Vande Bharat at Chengannur at the most opportune time. He said the stop was allotted just before the Sabarimala pilgrimage season after the Prime Minister and the Railway Minister realised that Chengannur, being the most important base point for Sabarimala pilgrims, most of the devotees began their pilgrimage from the place.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Kerala has come out against the detention of other trains to allow Vande Bharat to pass through. K. Baijunath, the Judicial Member of the Human Rights Commission, said that the travel woes of the short-distance passengers in the Malabar region that are caused by the detention of other trains in preference to Vande Bharat amounted to a violation of human rights. The commission directed the Railway Divisional Manager of Palakkad to examine the difficulties faced by the passengers and submit a report containing solutions within 15 days.