Kottayam: A few popular trains in Kerala are set to restart service after the suspension of services in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns and curbs.
Punalur-Guruvayur will run as a special express train from Wednesday. The Mangaluru-Nagercoil Parasuram Express will also operate service from February 11 onwards.
The Punalur-Guruvayur train, which was raised to the status of Express, will have six stoppages in Kottayam district. Though there were plans to extend the train till Madurai, it was not included in the new time table. Had this been extended till Madurai then many would have found a convenient train to reach Madurai at the earliest from Kottayam via Kollam.
Timings: Towards Punalur: Piravom Road - 8.45 am, Vaikom Road - 8.53, Kuruppanthara - 9.05, Ettumanoor - 9.20, Kottayam - 10 and Changanassery - 10.20 am.
Towards Guruvayoor: Changanassery - 9.17 pm, Kottayam - 9.45, Ettumanoor - 9.58, Kuruppanthara - 10.06, Vaikom Road - 10.14 and Piravom Road - 10.23 pm.
Services on Kottayam line
The train services through the Ernakulam–Kottayam–Kayamkulam line is now almost back to normal months after train services were suspended across the country last year.
Barring Mumbai-Kanyakumari Jayanti Janata Express all daily trains on this busy line have started services, though as special express trains.
The Kottayam-Nilambur Road Passenger and the Nagarcoil -Kottayam trains which were elevated to the status of Express trains will also start services soon. These two are included in the list of trains which were given permission by the Railway Board for re-starting services in the next phase of lifting curbs on services.
Daily passengers left in the lurch
Despite train services slowly returning to normal a year after the outbreak of COVID-19, passengers who depended on trains for daily commute have not benefitted.
The Railways has so still barred the use of season tickets or unreserved tickets on the trains that are back on the tracks in order to curb crowding.
At present one can travel in all classes on trains only with reserved tickets. Online booking is allowed only six times a month and with Aadhaar linkage a maximum of 12 tickets can be booked.
Though one can book as many tickets from the booking counters in railway stations, the facility is available only in important stations.
The failure to resume MEMU passenger services is also a major setback for daily commuters. Though several representations were submitted to the railway authorities for resuming morning and evening MEMU services, there is no response yet. The state government has also raised a similar demand but the Railways is not responding positively.