The cancellation of 08519/20 Visakhapatnam-LTT-Visakhapatnam special express, on the plea of safety-related modernisation works over Solapur Division of Central Railway, while continuing two trains from Bhubaneswar on the same path, is drawing criticism from rail users.
They wonder as to how 08519/20, which had 223.75% occupancy during 2020-21, is cancelled, when 1020 Bhubaneswar-CSMT Special and 2882 Bhubaneswar-Pune with a much lesser occupancy of 165.75% and 172.66% respectively, during the same period, continue to be operated. The information on occupancy of the trains was obtained from E Co R under the RTI Act.
The modernisation work is not affecting 34 pairs of trains running on that route, while only two trains are cancelled. The other train being Lingampalli – Indore Weekly Express, operated by Western Railway (WR), reportedly due to poor patronage. East Coast Railway (E Co R) has been cancelling Visakhapatnam – LTT almost continuously for over three months now. When Visakhapatnam-LTT was operated for a single day on July 1, it had a long waiting list in second sitting and sleeper classes and some waiting list in 3 AC and 2 AC at 6.10 p.m. on that day. At 8.15 p.m, there was no room in 2 S and SL classes, while only 19 and 16 berths were available in 3 AC and 2 AC respectively under current reservation. Rail users allege that E Co R authorities have plans to extend the Visakhapatnam-LTT daily express to Bhubaneswar as they had done in the case of Visakha Express, Prasanthi and Rayagada daily Chennai Weekly in the past. Their apprehensions are not without reason, E Co R has operated a special train – 08575 Bhubaneswar – LTT special from Bhubaneswar on June 30 and has now announced one more trip on July 7. This train leaves Bhubaneswar at 4 p.m. and will run on the same slot of Visakhapatnam – LTT express.
When his attention was drawn to the cancellation of Visakhapatnam-LTT express and other Viskhapatnam originating trains, Divisional Railway Manager Chetan Kumar Shrivastava said on June 29 that originating trains from Visakhapatnam would also be operated in a few days. True to his words, it was operated for a single day on July 1 and was once again cancelled from the next day till July-end.
“I will take up the matter with the DRM and the Railway Minister and ensure that the train is continued. I am also aware of the assurance given by the railways on the allotment of additional Vistadome coaches to the Araku train,” Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao told The Hindu on Sunday.