Poor patronage and travel curbs due to surge in COVID-19 has forced Railways to scale down the train services and coaches in passenger, mail, express and Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) trains and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation to reduce the schedules.
The Railways decision to reduce coaches and cancel trains and KSRTC’s decision to bring down services to 50% has hit those depending on the public transport for commuting. The scaling down of the services by the two public transport modes will hit the inter-district and inter-state movement of citizens.
Though Railways have said there is no plan to curtail or stop train services, the number of fully reserved special trains, operated to and from Kerala, being pulled out ‘temporarily” from the Railway network are going up.
The prestigious 06302/06301 fully reserved daily specials between Thiruvananthapuram Central and Shoranur Junction and back have been cancelled on weekends till May 30 citing poor patronage.
02627/02628 Tiruchchirappalli Junction-Thiruvananthapuram Central-Tiruchirappalli Junction Daily Intercity Specials, 06341/06342 Guruvayur-Thiruvananthapuram Central-Guruvayur Daily Intercity) Specials, 06327/06328 Punalur-Guruvayur Daily Specials, 06305/06306 Ernakulam Junction-Kannur-Ernakulam Junction Daily Intercity Specials, 06307/06308 Alappuzha-Kannur-Alappuzha Daily Executive Specials are the five pairs of trains cancelled by Railways from May 6 to 15.
“Poor patronage has led to the reduction in coaches and temporary cancellation of the fully reserved special trains. The patronage of commuters is hovering around 25%,” Divisional Railway Manager R. Mukund told The Hindu.
As only reserved passengers are allowed into the trains, inter-district commuters and those deciding to travel for emergencies depend on the fleet of the KSRTC and reducing the KSRTC services following the curbs have affected the commuters.
While KSRTC operated 2,028 buses over 6,20,831 km on April 30, it could operate only 961 buses over 2,94,386 km on May 1, 753 buses on 1,92,453 km on May 2, and 1,939 buses over 5,82,810 km on May 3. The passengers carried by the KSRTC fleet on April 30 was 7,37,462, 2,26,238 (May 1), 76,156 (May 2), and 7,54,186 on May 3.
The KSRTC will continue long-distance services and night services, and there is no move to discontinue long-distance night services, the KSRTC Chairman and Managing Director, Biju Prabhakar has said. The service will be fully regulated if there is a full lockdown and buses will ply during off-peak hours depending on the number of passengers, he adds.