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Run Trivandrum Bangalore train declared in 2014 budget

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We hope you have come across this news about two new trains scheduled to start from Thiruvananthapuram to Kannur and Bangalore respectively. The proposed service to Bangalore was the train no 22657/22658 Premium express (rebranded as Suvidha) as regular service announced by the then Railway Minister in the 2014 railway budget and was included in the 2015 all-India timetable. Even after three years, the train is yet to start its service, while all other trains announced in that budget have started service. And not only that, this train has been since removed from the timetable. This is unprecedented in the history of the railways. Unlike other Suvidha services, it does not even run during peak season times.

After repeated pleas by travelling public the media and people's representatives, the Railway Board and honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's office intervened in the matter, and the Thiruvananthapuram railway division geared up to finally start running this train after three years. Its proposed timings were forwarded to the Southern Railway HQ at Chennai and a meeting was held today (28/12/2017) at the South Western Railway HQ at Hubli to finalise the timings and other details for the new train. The meeting was attended by officials from the Southern Railway and South Western Railway. However, the CPTM/SWR arrogantly and adamantly refused to run the train on SWR territory, no matter what. He remained headstrong on outrightly refusing to even accept four alternate timings put forward by the Southern Railway. The SWR here is taking an unfortunate stance of outrightly opposing any attempt to run trains from Bangalore or Mysore to Kerala which is a grave injustice to the citizens of India who depend upon Indian Railways for their journey.

One has to consider the ulterior motives behind the SWR officials refusing to run trains to Kerala. There are more than 600 private luxury buses plying daily between Bangalore and various destinations in Kerala, which charge fares as high as Rs. 4000 for a single seat on an overnight journey. The proposed 22657/8 will seriously affect the revenues of these private bus operators as it is announced to run from Trivandrum on Sundays and from Bangalore on Fridays, the days which see highest traffic and revenues for them. SWR officials claim that there are terminal constraints in Bangalore that prevents them from starting new trains. However, this is untrue as they themselves have managed to start six new services from KSR Bangalore since 2014. Moreover, the 06579/80 YPR-VSKP special train runs on the exact same slot that was meant for 22657/8, which directly proves that there are no terminal constraints whatsoever in starting it! TVC/SR is even willing to run the train up to Mysore if there are terminal constraints in Bangalore, but SWR will not even listen to this. All this only shows that how trains to Kerala are being torpedoed by the private bus lobby with the active connivance of railway officials.

The Bangalore-Kerala sector sees heavy passenger traffic around the year. The 16525/6 and 16316/5 that run today between Trivandrum and Bangalore are on high waiting lists for an entire month. By not running the 22657/8, the railways is foregoing an easy source of revenue, as it is guaranteed to run full round the year. However, SWR is more concerned about safeguarding private bus owners' interests rather than that of the railways and of thousands of ordinary, common man passengers who are unable to get a train ticket to Bangalore, whom they are supposed to serve. It is astounding that these railway officers have the audacity to disobey a direct order from the Railway Board and the Prime Minister's Office! They are behaving in a manner that goes directly against the spirit of the constitution and the very federal structure of the Indian Republic. Their actions also undermine all the wholehearted attempts by the railway minister Shri Piyush Goyal to improve the Indian Railways.

We request you to directly look into the matter and make arrangements to start running the budget-announced 22657/8 express as a regular service at the earliest. It would be a great service to the people of Karnataka and Kerala. We hope for a positive response.

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