UPDATE: Removal of all temporary stoppages have been put on hold.
A good example that shows how Kerala and its hallowed population of Malayalees are dedicated to the ideals of socialism is its trains. Outside Kerala you might be a big-ass Rajdhani, a fast intercity or overnight express, an ultra-prestigious superfast sharing the name with your state or an ultra-long haul express heading to the farthest frontiers of the country. But once you cross into Kerala, all trains are equal, or more easily said, every train is a passenger train. Your thundering, high-flying rip roaring superfast with hours of unbroken fast runs will get converted into a mousy commuter passenger train stopping every 15 kilometers or less.
The state of trains in the state of Kerala is well known. The average speed of train travel in Kerala is a miserable 39 kilometers per hour. Tiny stations host mighty Superfasts (Vaikom Road – has only one platform, no other express stops there, but the Kerala Express does!) Long distance passengers sweat hours out to reach their destinations as trains crawl along past all the Wadakkancheris, Trippunithuras and Karunagappallys. We have epic fails such as the Malabar, Mangalore, Parasuram, Island, Venad, Executive etc “Expresses” which have a halt every 12-14 km with average speeds never going above 40 kmph! Even the Kerala Express has 10 stops in its first 240 kilometers! Heck, even the Rajdhani has 8 halts in Kerala!
Why are Trains in Kerala so Slow?
One reason is the low MPS (Maximum Permissible Speed) of tracks thanks to the terrain, curves, high traffic volume etc., But the biggest contributing factor is the large number of stops trains in Kerala have to make. The reasons for why there are so many stops for trains in Kerala are well known:
- Extremely urbanized state with dense populations spread equally throughout the state
- A highly affluent and mobile populace
- Severe limitations of fast road transport options
- No viable fast commuter train systems (EMUs etc)
- Large number of migrant Malayalees traveling to other states
- Politics. Use of railways and train stoppages as a political tool
Politicians from Kerala whose idea of “development” other than installing high-mast floodlights force the railways to allocate stoppages for all trains wherever possible, mostly for “prestige” reasons rather than to serve any real economic purpose, slowing down trains further. As a result, people going from Kottayam and Ernakulam to Bangalore as well as those going from Kottayam to Ernakulam have to depend on the Island Express.
However, all this is going to change! The Railway Board and Southern Railway have recently announced the decision to cancel around 160+ existing stoppages (including most temporary stops) in Kerala for some 45 trains from July 1 2014 when the new timetable comes into effect. The stops to be removed were decided upon by studying the revenue earned from those respective stations for the trains. What is shocking is not the an unprecedentedly large number of stops being removed, it is that the removal of any temporary stops is totally unheard of! Trains on the Indian Railways are allocated new stoppages as a “temporary” measure for usually 6 months after which the railways “reviews” collections from the stations and decides whether those stops are profitable enough to be permanently added to the train’s timetable. But as it goes, those trains will never lose these stops as the temporary halts get extended and extended thanks to politics. There are some trains which are stopping at “temporary” halts for a decade or more! Once a temporary halt is announced, it is as good as a permanent halt. But seeing that this allocation of stops has now reached ridiculous proportions (Mayyanad, Cheriyanad etc), the railways have decided to do away with stoppages whose collections are so meager that it does not warrant a stoppage for a train at those stations.
Finally, a policy has been framed on how trains should stop at new stations henceforth.
List of trains in Kerala whose which stops have been removed
Please note that this decision is not final and binding, the railways may decide to recall some of these stops or all of them. Any such announcement will be updated here.
Regular Daily Express Trains1
|List of Stoppages Removed
|Parassala PASA, Chirayinkeezhu CRY, Kadakkavur KVU, Paravur PVU, Karunagapally KPY, Yadgir YG
|Varkala VAK, Karunagapally KPY, Kayankulam KYJ, Mavelikara MVK, Morappur MAP
|Puthukkad PUK, Trippunithura TRTR, Piravam Road PVRD, Sasthamkotta STKT, Paravur PVU, Kadakkavur KVU, Chirayinkeezhu CRY, Trivandrum Pettah TVP, Dhanuvachapuram DAVM, Parassala PASA, Kuzhithurai West KZTW, Palliyadi PYD.
|Kochuveli Mysore Express
|MYS KCVL MYS
|Kayankulam KYJ, Harippad HAD, Ambalapuzha AMPA, Cherthala SRTL, Aluva AWY, Tiruppur TUP, Tiruppathur TPT, Kuppam KPN
|Yadgir YG, Karunagapally KPY, Eraniel ERL.
|SRR TVC SRR
|Mayyanad MYY, Sasthamkotta STKT
|NCJ MAQ MCJ
|Kuzhitturai KZT, Harippad HAD, Ambalapuzha AMPA, Cherthala SRTL, Turavur TUVR, Aluva AWY, Chalakudi CKI, Pattambi PTB
|MAQ NCJ MAQ
|Paravur PVU, Sasthamkotta STKT, Trippunithura TRTR
|Parassala PASA, Chirayinkeezhu CRY, Kadakkavur KVU, Paravur PVU, Shasthamkotta STKT, Trippunithura TRTR, Puthukkad PUK
|GUV TVC GUV
|Mayyanad MYY, Mararikulam MAKM
|Trippunithura TRTR, Karunagappally KPY, Sasthamkotta STKT, Paravur PVU, Chirayinkeezhu CRY
|Chirayinkeezhu CRY, Paravur PVU, Sasthamkotta STKT, Karunagapally KPY, Mulamturutti MNTT, Trippunithura TRTR
|MAQ TVC MAQ
|TVC MAQ TVC
|TVC NIL TVC
|Tuvvur TUV, Valiyapuzha VZ
|TVC LTT TVC
|Varkala VAK, Karunagapally KPY, Mookambika Road BYNR
|ERS CAN ERS
|Angamali AFK, Chalakudi CKI, Tanur TAN, Parappanangadi PGI, Mahe MAHE
|ALLP DHN ALLP
|Mararikulam MAKM, Turavur TUVR
|YPR CAN YPR
|Kuttipuram KTU, Podanur PTJ, Tiruppur TUP, Carmelaram CRLM, Banaswadi BAND
|ALLP CAN ALLP
|Puthukkad PUK, Wadakkanchery WKI, Vallikunnu VLI
|MAS MAQ MAS
|Parappanangadi PGI, Sankaridurg SGE, Walajah Road WJR
|Tea Garden Exp
|KIK ERS KIK
|Nidamangalam NMJ, Budlaur BAL, Idapalli IPL
|Karukutti KUC, Kalamasserry KLMR, Idapalli IPL, Mulanturutti MNTT, Kuruppantara KNPP, Cheriyanad CYN, Perinad PRND, Kilikollur KLQ, Kuri KIF
|ERS CAN ERS
|Puthukkad PUK, Wadakkanchery WKI
Daily Superfast Express Trains
[ultimatetables 3 /]
[ultimatetables 4 /]
Non-Daily Express and Superfast Trains
[ultimatetables 5 /]
Stations Having Lost the Most Number of Stops and Trains
[ultimatetables 6 /]
You can see that most of those stoppages are for trains south of Ernakulam, in the Trivandrum (TVC) division. Interestingly, some trains like the 12623/4 Chennai – Trivandrum Mail and the 12341/2 Rajdhani have not been touched. It looks like all those stoppages are indeed profitable.
But what is the use of a train if it runs without stopping anywhere?
A long-distance express train should not halt everywhere because is primarily meant to cater to long-distance passengers and not to local commuters. A train like the Kerala Express which has to travel 3000 km and is meant to cater to ultra-long haul passengers made to stop every 20 km in Kerala is nothing short of absurdity. Repeated stoppages for trains come at a huge, huge time cost for long-distance passengers who have to sacrifice their time and money for the commuter passenger. The cost is also high for the railways. The problem with Kerala is that every long distance train is seen as a commuter train. Indian Railways or the state government must start local Intercity commuter expresses (as was suggested on this blog itself) and other local trains (EMUs) for shorter distance passengers so that they can commute comfortably and long distance trains and their passengers are left in peace. These EMUs and Intercities can also act as connections for long distance trains. This is how it is done in developed economies. Indians should be saved from having to travel in crowded general compartments of some Bilaspur – Tirunelveli Express to get from Aluva to Alappuzha.
In all probability, the order for most of these stops to be discontinued will sadly be withdrawn, albeit temporarily. I hope Indian Railways and Southern Railway will cancel some of these stops permanently.
Information provided here is only indicative in nature and please always confirm all information with official sources before relying on them (Contact your nearest railway station or call 139 or visit the official website of Indian Railways). This website is not an official website of the Indian Railways but is run by a railway enthusiast. The official website of the railways is http://indianrailways.gov.in.