Railways out to break this junction’s journey to glory!

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Promises are meant to be broken, so goes the sarcastic remark. It seems to be true with the railways. Otherwise, why should it make clandestine moves to degrade Ernakulam Junction? DC probes.

Time and time again, promises have been made by the railways and ministers in charge of making the Ernakulam main station into a world-class facility.

However it seems just the reverse is happening. Close on the heels of the move to close down the goods maintenance yard, top railway authorities are scaling down the functioning of the area manager’s (AM) office here in a step-by-step manner.

While the measures have been projected as part of a “cost-cutting exercise”, experts question the logic behind the efforts that in effect will result in the degeneration of the highest passenger earning station under the Thiruvananthapuram division.

“First they took away the post of area supervisor, then they transferred staff in crucial positions of the AM’s office without replacements, stopped releasing emergency quotas (EQ) from here, virtually closed down the goods marshalling yard…The sudden shifting of the EQ allotment to Thiruvananthapuram in the absence of the AM and not allocating responsibility to the next officer is suspicious. One wonders if the intention is to close down the office of the AM,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity.

From the common man’s point of view, the development is expected to hit students from around 500 institutions besides eligible artistes who will have to go all the way to Thiruvananthapuram to get concessional tickets if indeed the AM’s office closes down.

State railway minister Aryadan Muhammed promised to look into the matter. “The state government will take up the matter that seems to be putting a lot of people to difficulty. We’ll ask the central authorities to back away from all such moves.”

“The direction to stop issuing EQs from the divisional railway manager’s office came on Wednesday evening out of the blue and that too when the AM was on 10 days leave. Usually the procedure is to hand over the responsibility to any assistant officers who will verify and sign quota requests. But now one has to travel all the way to Thiruvananthapuram to get their quota released,” the railway official said.

“What logic can officials give in doing this to a station located in the central part of Kerala and from where a lot of important long-distance trains operate? On the one hand the ministers go on declaring that they are going to covert this station into a world-class one and on the other they are taking away many of the existing facilities,” said K.P. Ayyappan Nair, SRMU branch secretary.

A former railway official who is member of the safety advisory committee said that the move to remove the post of AM is “questionable” as the AM is responsible for the overall supervision of the day-to-day operations in central Kerala.

“If incidents like a train derailment happen, it’s the AM who should reach the spot and take immediate action. There were three to four incidents in the Ernakulam region even recently. In his absence, an official has to come to the spot all the way from Thiruvananthapuram and traffic will be hit till he arrives,” he said.

Repeated calls to top officials in the division went unanswered.

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