Kerala train origin shifted, many affected

Thousands of North Kerala-bound train passengers are caught in a twister of commute woes. Reason: The railways’ almost overnight decision to shift the origin of the Yeshwantpur–Kannur train to Banaswadi, a station several kilometres away and not linked by any bus connectivity. 

On Monday night, as the Kannur Express chugged out of the Banaswadi station, many passengers missed the train, the only rail link to North Kerala. Many had to reach
by expensive cabs and auto-rickshaws, enduring over 2.5 hours on the congested roads, packed with peak-hour traffic. 

The South Western Railway’s rationale behind shifting the originating station was straightforward: Decongestion of the Yeswantpur terminal. 

But commuters were not impressed. “It is very strange that they targeted the only train going towards the Malabar region. What about the multiple trains heading to Chennai,” asked Reji Kumar, General Secretary of Kerala Samajam, which spearheaded a protest at the station. 

For thousands of people heading to the North Kerala districts of Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod, the Yeshwantpur–Kannur train offers the only cheap alternative to the costly bus service.

“Bus fares to Kozhikode and Kannur can go up to Rs 900 to Rs 1,200. During weekends, this goes even higher,” Kumar pointed out. 

Yeshwantpur, connected both by bus services and the metro, offered the best option for those residing in Peenya, Sunkadakatte and the adjoining areas. Over 40% of passengers on the train used to board at Yeshwantpur. 

Sustained campaigns by the commuters and the Samajam had helped the Banaswadi station get a big upgrade from an erstwhile, wayside station. Today, it has a foot overbridge, upgraded platforms, good lights, information systems and parking. Commuters wondered whether all their efforts were worth it since the railways appeared to be penalising them now. 

Trains heading towards South Kerala have stops at Bengaluru Cantonment, Baiyappanahalli and KR Puram. But the Kannur Express has halts only at Banaswadi and Carmelaram stations. 

Commuters had submitted a memorandum, seeking a third stop at Heelalige, about six km from Electronics City. The railways is yet to respond to this request.

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Kerala train origin shifted, many affected

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