Mangaluru, March 11, 2020: Cancellation of the existing Bengaluru-Karwar-Bengaluru Express by the Railway Board, at the instance of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL), is a gross violation of the Board’s own policy, argue rail activists.
The Board, while announcing a new overnight, dedicated express between Bengaluru (Yeshwantpur) and Karwar, ordered the cancellation of Trains 16513/14 (via Kunigal) and 16523/24 (via Mysuru) that were operated combined with the Bengaluru-Kannur-Bengaluru Express with effect from March 8.
West Coast Rail Yatri Abhivriddhi Samiti adviser Anil Hegde said as per the May 26, 2005 policy brought out by the Railway Board, several steps have to be taken before cancelling an existing train and an abrupt cancellation is not possible.
"Railways cannot assume that the existing trains will lose patronage upon the introduction of the new, dedicated train,” he said, adding that Railways should have operated the existing services at least for six months before cancelling either of the two trains on the basis of poor patronage.
As per the policy, a train may be cancelled for two reasons — if the patronage was less than 30% for a year or that an alternative service was available.
An elaborate procedure too has to be followed before cancellation. A committee of senior officers in a railway zone may shortlist trains to be cancelled primarily maintained in that zone and refer the same to the opinion of Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committees and Zonal Railway Users’ Consultative Committees for their views.
A final report has to be submitted to the General Manager of the zone, who then would recommend the cancellation to the Board, Mr. Hegde said.
In cancelling Bengaluru-Karwar-Bengaluru trains, the Railways did not follow any of these procedure. KRCL was not the primary zone where the trains were operated, but it was South Western Railway (SWR). Neither KRCL nor SWR held meetings with users’ committees. SWR did not recommend cancellation of the trains, he pointed out.
SWR General Manager A.K. Singh told The Hindu the zone had not recommended cancellation of the train. He said during the recent Inter Railway Timetable Committee meeting at Bengaluru, KRCL had expressed constraints, which the board might have considered.