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Tuesday, July 19

A tale of three cities

This is a story of numbers, as it is a story of cities, but not a complicated one. Plain and simple mathematics when you look at it from my perspective, and from any common man's or business man's perspective. And those numbers portray a simple murky scheme, the way we, the people, are held at ransom by a few 'real' bourgeois, not the extinct feudal variety our Commie friends fight in their dreams.

Now aren't we all able to see through that?

The numbers & information in this post are mostly derived from Sleeper Class data is based on the total SL coaches allocated to a train and does not reflect on the actual no of seats available for reservation between two cities. Eg: Kottayam- Bangalore sector may only have approx 100 berths in a 10 Sleeper Class, 720-seater Express Train. Trivandrum Central has been used as the base point for the post.

City #1 Mangalore

Distance: 635 km
Capital of Dhakshina Kannada
Gateway to Konkan Railway and on to Mumbai and Gujarat
2 lakh Malayalees
Commercially imprtant city for North Malabar and a major educational hub for the whole of Kerala
Major Port and industrial city

Road: Numerous Bus operators run overnight from all major towns.
Air: Kingfisher and Air India Express fly direct from Cochin
  • 6 daily Express trains including Netravati Express.
  • Total no: of trains available per week between two cities 15. This includes a Rajadhani Express, Kerala Samparka Kranthi and Kochuveli- Mumbai Garib Rath.
  • Another half a dozen trains run via Mangalore from Ernakulam.
  • Sleeper Class coaches available per week: 140 including 6 Super Fast services [inclusive of a Rajadhani, Samparka Kranti and Garib Rath] Two daily day-services, Parasuram and Eranad Expresses also service the two cities.

City #2 Chennai

Distance from Trivandrum: 909 km
Capital of Tamil Nadu
Major transit point for air travel and other Indian cities
5 lakh Malayalees
South India's major industrial, IT and entertainment hub.

Road: State and Private operators ply overnight luxury bus services.
Air: Around half a dozen daily flights from Cochin and Trivandrum.
  • 4 daily Express trains, exclusive between Chennai & Trivandrum. The new budget has presented another Duranto which takes the number to 5
  • 3 more Express/ Super Fast daily services from Ernakulam.
  • Korba- Akalyanagari- Raptisagar Expresses which operates on all days except Friday, run via Chennai Central.
  • Total trains connecting Chennai to Trivandrum stands at 11
  • Sleeper Class coaches available per week: 126. Includes 6 Super-Fasts [viz the Chennai Mail and the newly introducing Duranto]

City #3 Bangalore

Distance 840 km
Karnataka Capital City
IT hub of India; important city for Kerala's lone growing industry
10 lakh Malayalees


Road: Private bus operators make merry at nearly double the fares on Chennai sector (for lesser distance)
Air: Over half a dozen daily flights from Cochin and Trivandrum.
  • 1 daily train from Trivandrum! That too the moving disgrace called Island Express.
  • Another daily express operates from Ernakulam.
  • A total of 6 trains connect Bangalore all the way down to Trivandrum
  • Sleeper class coaches available per week: 64.
  • One lone Superfast which runs 1 day a week! Then there's a tri-weekly GaribRath. So in fact, the no: of daily Super Fast trains connecting Trivandrum and Bangalore is a big, fat, mind-boggling 0

This Bangalore situation is so diabolical when you see that even Air travel is so well flourishing between Bangalore and Cochin/ Trivandrum, so demand or viability for another half-a-dozen daily Super Fasts is clear as daylight. Even Mumbai, a distant 1600+km of wilderness away from Trivandrum has 3 daily trains from Kerala, and a total of 17 trains a week passing through Panvel or directly to CST/ Kurla.

There've been persistent demands and agitations for better rail connectivity to Bangalore ever since the city gained its IT Hub status over 20 years back, and the excruciatingly slow Island Express is the lone daily train connecting Kerala's IT Hub at Trivandrum. Apart from the erratic new weekly services announced once in a blue moon, and that too deliberately on low-demand days, these petitions and cries have fallen on deaf ears.

The last of this cruel treatment of public has been the sudden rescheduling of the #12683 Ernakulam- Bangalore Express, which, following passenger agitation has been reinstated. [See Facebook page of Save 12683 Express for more details]

I'm drawing no conclusions to the tale; I leave you to draw your own. But is it too hard to understand, analyse or guess how Indian Railways are acting a business accomplice to private transport establishments?

As I said in the beginning, who isn't able to see the scheme of things? Crystal balls anyone?

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