Bangalore to Kerala: The tale of railways' neglect

Bangalore perhaps has the highest population of Malayalees outside the state of Kerala - very often, the Garden city is nicknamed as a mini-Kerala. A good number of Malayalees work in the IT industry, and like every IT professional, these Malayalees head home every weekend. The most used mode of transportation is by road - either by bus or drive down a car. If you've noticed my earlier statement, the train does not feature as a preferred mode of transport. A small analysis of the trains running to Kerala would perhaps underpin my statement.

Following are the trains that operate to various parts of Kerala (the days in parenthesis indicate the days of run from Bangalore):
To South Kerala:
1. 16526 Kanniyakumari Island express (the only daily overnight train to South Kerala at the moment)
2. 16315 Kochuveli Express (currently on Wed, Fri and Sun)
3. 12257 Kochuveli Garib Rath express (Tue, Thu and Sun)
4. 16321 Trivandrum weekly express (Thu)
5. 12684 Ernakulam Super Fast (Tue, Thu)
6. 22608 Ernakulam Super Fast (Mon)
7. 12677 Ernakulam Intercity express (Daily)
8. 12777 Hubli-Kochuveli express (Wed)

There are two trains running to North Kerala - 16517 and 16527. Both run daily, but through different routes.

A quick analysis of trains to South Kerala shows that there are 8 pairs of trains - which is a good figure when looked at superficially. However, on close look, one realises that they run in clusters. There are 3 non-daily trains and 2 daily trains on Thursday - total of 5 trains on a single day! Monday sees 3 trains, Tuesday has 4, Wednesday has 2, Friday has 1, Saturday has none, while Sunday has two.

Friday sees the maximum crowd from Bangalore to Kerala - and there is just one extra train on Friday!

As if all this was not enough, the railways have now hatched a plan to deprive the passengers of the only solace on fridays. The 16315/6 Bangalore-Kochuveli tri-weekly express would be converted to a daily train very soon. However, this conversion comes with a very serious adverse effect: a change in timings. The train would now leave Bangalore at 1415hrs and arrive Kochuveli at 0605hrs. The train would depart from Kochuveli at 2120hrs and arrive Bangalore at 1245hrs. Anybody with common sense would have guessed by now that the timings are made to ensure that the train is not of use for any working person.

All this while the railways have a free slot at 1850hrs from Bangalore City Junction on all days but Thursday. Despite having such a favourable slot, the railways have decided to shift the train to a completely unacceptable departure time of 1415hrs.

As if all this was not enough, the railways are planning to run the new weekly AC Express on Thursdays from Bangalore! So, there would be 6 trains on Thursday - when all the crowd is on Friday!

It does not take a nobel laureate to understand that the days of run and awful timings are selected solely with the reason of helping certain vested interests. The railways would pull out every reason that they could think of to support the completely insane timings/days of run. If that is not enough, almost every train from Bangalore is terminated at Kochuveli - a completely isolated station on the outskirts of Trivandrum, which is deserted even during the day. At the same, every new train from Chennai would run to Trivandrum Central - for the simple reason that the umpteen officers who travel from the Zonal HQ to the Divisional HQ would not want to get out in the middle of a jungle and then travel long distance to their accommodation. The railways claim that Trivandrum Central has platform constraints for introducing new trains from Bangalore, while the same constraints do not apply to trains from Chennai - may be trains from Bangalore are heavier, while the ones from Chennai stop in the air.

This complete neglect of the railways to the needs of its passengers - and the step-motherly treatment by the zonal HQ to the state is only shooing away passengers to other modes of transportation. While I never support unwarranted red-tape expenditure, the attitude of the zonal HQ towards the state only strengthens the belief of an average Malayalee that a separate zone is only the solution to the problems. It is imperative that the railway zone is partitioned. Its better that railway zones are divided on state basis - that would atleast help in the development of the railways in the state concerned.

While the railways continue to neglect a very deserving route, bus operators make more and more money on the route - a 500km bus journey now costs upward of Rs. 1000! Atleast one new bus is added to the Bangalore-Kerala route every month. The railways continue to think that the public are fools enough not to understand the vested interests in such stupid decisions.


rejoy leen said…
i felt like bombing SR headquarters after hearing about the utterly stupid, himalayan blunder of changing the timings of kochuveli express. this was the only trains that provided some respite for passengers from South kerala and is way better than the glorified ordinary "island express" which is awfully late by the time it reaches south stations like kollam, tvm etc. this is certainly done to help those with vested interest and will fill the coffers of the booming pvt bus operators. Now with railways getting strongly motivated by Kerala RTC's moves we can expect more blunders and neglect from railways too..high time to kick off some protest..
sam said…
What about to north kerala from banglore? It is some more disappointing than to south.
Innocent Spirit said…
Excellent summary - precisely the feeling of every South Kerala Malayalee person from Bangalore since a long time.....instead of making the railways progressive and people friendly these morons are taking a step backwards.....
Navjyoth Sarma said…
And finally Rlys have decided to stick to the current timings of Kcvl-b'lore...

Well summarized article clearly articulating the bangalore-kerala travel woes;