Stations on track, but footfall woes on this DEMU train route

Stations on track, but footfall woes on this DEMU train route

Stations on track, but footfall woes on this DEMU train route
The demand for local trains is increasing, but the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train to Ramanagaram, started with much fanfare, is getting poor response. This has prompted officials to rethink on running the service, although most stations on this stretch are in better shape.

The train has the capacity to seat 576 passengers. However, on an average, barely 70 people board it daily on the Bengaluru-Ramanagaram route.

“The number is sometimes even less. It is disappointing to see such a good service unutilised. Even on the Ramanagaram-Bengaluru route (6:30 pm), the response is poor as there are many express trains running around the same time,” says Ramanagaram Station Master D Umesh.

Passengers, however, blames impractical plans and wrong timings for the situation. “The train leaves Bengaluru at 4:30 pm. Regular travelers, most of whom are employees, will never be able to board it. Hundreds of people who arrive at 5:30 pm end up waiting for Chamundi Express at 6:15 pm,” says Guruswamy, who travels frequently between the two stations.

People were packed like sardines on Chamundi Express on Friday. “This train beats the weekend rush theory. Come any day, you will see the same rush. Because this happens to be the best train in the evening for people who want to reach all the stations in between Mysuru and Bengaluru,” says Javed, a mechanic from Mysuru.

The Ramanagaram Station Master agrees that a little change in the schedule of DEMU train would help lessen the burden on others that follow it. “The process of changing timings is a little complicated. There are other steps that can attract more passengers. Extending the DEMU till Maddur is one of them,” he explains.

On an average, more than 2,500 passengers travel from Ramanagaram to Bengaluru daily. Many passengers say the number will double if the railways schedule a train at 6 am. Thousands take buses in the early morning because there are absolutely no train service till the Mangaluru express arrives at 7 am, they add.

M N Kumar, an employee with the Postal Department who travels daily between Ramanagaram and Bengaluru, says the local train should be extended to at least Channapatna. “Many express trains do not halt at Channapatna. Passenger trains that stop there run during odd hours. So, hundreds of people from there arrive to Ramanagaram by bus to catch a train to Bengaluru. It is nothing less than a circus,” he says.

Railway sources say the DEMU service, which was introduced on a temporary basis, may soon be stopped. “Poor response means loss of revenue to the tune of crores of rupees. We can’t run a train for 50 people,” the source adds.

“Instead of shutting the service, officials should think of ways to boost its revenue. For example, there are no trains from Ramanagaram after 11:30 am till 3:15 pm. If the DEMU train is extended to Maddur, it can cover this intervening period. A slight improvement in speed is also needed,” says Kumar.

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