Mangaluru: Rail patrons have received news of the introduction of a new express 16585/16586 which plies thrice a week between Yeshwantpur railway station and Mangalore Central railway station, with a sense of guarded optimism. While the commercial run of the train will start from Mangalore Central railway station on Friday and from Yeshwantpur railway station on Sunday, respectively, Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel will flag off the inaugural run from Mangalore Central railway station on Thursday.
The reason for the guarded optimism is that neither the timing nor days of service is convenient for patrons. South Western Railway (SWR) proposed the new service after a request from the MP. Initially, it was planned that the train would leave Yeshwantpur on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday at 4.30pm and reach Mangalore Central at 4am the next day. The proposal was sent to the Railway Board after consulting Southern Railway (SR), that has operational control over Mangaluru.
However, official notification of the train released by SWR on February 14 saw the Friday service from Yeshwantpur advanced to Thursday. Gautham Shetty, a rail aficionado from Bengaluru, averred the Friday service despite its 4.30pm start, was a boon to weekend travellers. However, SWR authorities maintain that the change was done at the insistence of SR as they could not receive the train at Mangaluru on Saturday for operational reasons.
This explanation has irked Paschima Karavali Rail Yatri Abhivriddhi Samiti advisor, Anil Hegde, who wondered the nature of this ‘constraint,’ for no train departs from or arrives at Mangaluru Central at 4am on Saturday. Pratap Singh Shami, divisional railway manager, Palakkad division of SR, said this change was done on the advice of the operations department, who are the best to decide, as they juggle through various combinations.
The fact that the overnight service train leaves Yeshwantpur at 4.30pm to reach Mangaluru Central 11.30 hours later at 4am covering 366 km, via the shortest route of Kunigal, has irked rail users. In comparison, the Bengaluru-Kannur/Karwar night express via Mysuru takes 12 hours to traverse 447 km. The three times a week day service of Gomateshwara Express and Karwar Express take nine hours between Mangaluru Junction and Bengaluru.
SWR authorities maintained that SR officials asserted they could receive the train at Mangaluru Central only at 4am as other slots were not available. Calculating the arrival time at Mangaluru, SWR could zero in on the 4.30pm departure slot at Yesvantpur as other slots were occupied. However, on the return trip, the train leaves Mangaluru Central at 7pm to reach Yeshwantpur at 4.30am. Patrons wished that this train operate on Sundays as well.