Neglected Palakkad – Pollachi Rail section even after gauge conversion.

As per the information received on the new Time Table for the Southern Zonal Railway, the two Express Trains in the Palakkad – Pollachi Dindigul section – Up and down Amrita Expresses and Chennai Central – Palakkad expresses are not given any stoppage between Palakkad Town and Pollachi.

I remember the ‘Pradhishetha Kootayma” held at Kambrathchalla at Muthalamada in thr first week of November,2017 protesting against the denial of stoppages of trains ( TVN – Madurai to/fro ‘Amritha; and Chennai Central – Palakkad to/fro Express trains) at Pudunagaram, Kollengode and Muthalamada ( all with in Palakkad district) stations. Further Labour unions and the poltical parties in Pudunagaram and the neighboring places like Koduvayur and Chittur-Thattamangalam participated in the Rail Roko held at Ooottara ( Kollengode railway Station ) and did attempted to prevail on MoR through the Zonal Railway – S.Rlys so as to get stoppages for express trains at all stations in the Pollachi – Palakkad section.

Let us hope that MoR will be convinced on the need for stoppages for these trains at all these stations and a notification to this effect will be released as early as possible.

It is deplorable that Railway administration had not permitted any stoppage for Amrita Express in important stations that were patronised by hundreds of passengers during the days of M.G trains to/fro Madurai and Rameswaram. It is to be noted that Kollengode, Pudunagaram and Muthalamada stations will attract many passengers including those who commute daily between towns in Palakkad district and Pollachi. This train, both in up and down trips must have stoppages at two more stations as well, viz. Udumalaipettai, an Industrial town with small-scale industries and Oddanchatram, where the biggest vegetable market of Southern India is situated, that too very close to the railway station. Since the PGT – DGL rail section has potential to run trains at 80 k.m per hours, there will be no need for rescheduling the up/down trains while sanctioning the said five additional stoppages.

I think that initially it was planned to grant the stoppage at Kollengode for the Chennai Central – Palani – Pollachi (Up and Down) Expresses extended to Palakkad, as reported in THE HINDU.But I did see news in vernacular- news papers that the said train was not given stoppage at Kollengode. This train too must stop not only at Kollengode, but also at Pudunagaram and Muthalamada in both directions. Fortunately stoppages at Udumalaipettai and Oddanchatram were already given to the Chennai train while operating from/upto Pollachi prior to the extension towards Palakkad Jn.! But Amrita ( upon extending to Madurai from Palakkad) is not given stoppages at these towns. It is to be noted that Udumalaipet is an industrail and comercial centre and Oddanchatram is a famous for the biggest Vegetable market in Southern India.Thus Amrita must have stoppages at these stations in both Up and Down trips.

Since Palakkad – Pollachi – Dindigul section is a ‘Branch Line’ that connects ‘Trunk Route’ at both ends, trains introduced through this rail link must have to cater to the needs of passengers who travel to/fro many towns and villages in the enclave. Trains are not introduced for ‘Point to Point’ trips between bigger cities/towns! Puthunagaram, Kollengode and Muthalamada are the nearest Railway stations for hundreds of daily passengers to/fro towns/villages with famous temple, markets & trading centres , tourist destinations, heritage places etc. Kollengode was a busy station, almost like a busy junction during the days of MG trains.

Puthunagaram, Kollengode and Muthalamada stations will be convenient for passengers in the a big enclave of PGT-Thrissur district covering many towns and villages, from the valley of Nelliyampathy Hill ( Western Ghats region) to Valluvandau regions in the banks of River Nila. Even passengers from Thrissur City and nearby places can board-on/alight from trains at Kollengode ( Oottara) or Puthunagaram station since they may find it convenient to travel by road for 2 hours ( by bus too ), the road route viz. Thrissur – Kollengode ( Thrissur – Mannuthy- Vadakkumcherry- Maudappallur – Chittilamcherry- ‘Nemmara – Vallanghy’ town – Vithanassery – Elavancherry – vattekkad – Kollengode/Oottara); and Thrissur – Puthunagaram ( Thrissur- Mannuthy – Vadakkumcherry- Alathur – Trippalur – Kunisseri- Koduvayur,- Puthunagaram , less than 5 km Tathamangalam/Chittur muncipal towns). Southern Railway must have complete data relating the passenger patronage of these two stations while rameswaram and Madurai bound M.G trains were popular.. Kollengode station had a Reservation Counter then that enabled booking passenger reservation for accomodation in trains ( Seat/Berth) passing through Palakkad Jn.( Olavakode) as well under ‘Station Quota’ earmarked for Kollengode. Now this Reservation Counter must be restored at the Kollengode station as early as possible.

Pilgrim and business passengers would have delighted if the much talked about and proposed Trains viz. Palakkad – Rameswaram ( on the lines of the previous MG Fast passenger Train ) as well as Mangalore – Rameswaram and Ernakulam – Rameswaram Trains are introduced now. Very unfortunate that people have to wait for the ‘next season’ ( say, the release of next TT in July,2019!) for Rameswaram trains.In fact these trains were proposed by Palakkad division itself in July,2016. These trains were on the anvil even while the fresh Time Table comes out in in last year! If there are serious constraints to introduce separate trains ( to/fro Ernakulam/Mangalore- Rameswaram ), the pair train can be scheduled as a single train ( for amalgamation/bifurcation at Shoranur Junction). Passengers towards/from Guruvayur must be given connection train for the short journey of half an hour from/to Thrissur. It is desirable that Palakkad- Rameswaram (Up and Down) train is introduced preferably as Late Night FP with SL and 3A bogies (drawing a parallel to FP train with SL during the MG era) to facilitate convenient and budget-travel to pilgrims from Palakkad district who are the majority in number among pilgrims of Kerala to temple towns like Palani, Madurai and Rameswaram. MoR must consider the introduction of the above proposed Rameswaram Trains in this year itself if rakes are made available for the same.

By Madan Menon Thottasseri

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