Mangaluru, June 25, 2015: The Karnataka High Court’s direction to South Western Railway to consider, within three months, representations to operate additional trains between Bengaluru and Mangaluru has dashed the hopes of the people in the coastal region for a speedy journey as the Shiradi Ghat is under repair.
A division bench of the court disposed of a pubic interest writ petition filed by Lata Ramesh and Pradeep Kumar Kalkura with the direction to consider their representation within three months. The petitioners had pointed out that though the Railway Budget had announced the introduction of a new express train, the Railway Board was yet to introduce it. Meanwhile, Shiradi Ghat, the main link between the coast and the hinterlands, has been dislocated.
People are forced to spend more time on commuting by bus via alternative routes, the petitioners said. Therefore, the railways should at least operate additional trains, they urged. Paschima Karavali Rail Yatri Abhivriddhi Samiti office-bearer G. Hanumanth Kamath stated that if the railways wished, they could have introduced additional trains without waiting for the intervention of the High Court. The present judgment would come handy for the railway authorities, as Shiradi Ghat was likely to be opened in the next two months.
They would have a reason not to operate additional trains on the ground that the ghat had been opened for vehicular traffic. He said that the railways had always been exhibiting an adversary attitude towards Karnataka, more so towards the coastal region. This is due to the strong Kerala lobby working within the railways, he said.
The people of the coast had to fight to get the Bengaluru-Mangaluru night train, which was extended to Kannur, to get it extended to Karwar, by approaching the High Court, he recalled. The Palakkad division of Southern Railway had always been discouraging the introduction of trains that could benefit coastal region.
The railways has been citing “operational constraints” on the ghat section to introduce any new trains on the section. P. Ganesh Rao, Chief Operations Manager of South Western Railway, had on February 15, 2015, written to the Railway Board to keep introduction of the new train announced in the budget pending till the “operational constraints” are resolved.