Citing poor ridership after the partial lockdown imposed by the Karnataka government, the South Western Railways (SWR) has cancelled 72 trains, most of which operated on suburban and intra-State routes.
In the Bengaluru division, 38 express trains and 18 DEMU/MEMU trains have been cancelled.
of the cancellations include trains operating to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) as well as suburban services from Bengaluru city to Marikuppam, Hosur and others.
Chief PRO of SWR Aneesh Hegde said trains with ridership under 30% had been cancelled temporarily.
“When the lockdown was imposed, there were no restrictions on train services. However, ridership dropped drastically on certain routes. A decision on resumption of services will be taken after the lockdown is lifted,” he said.
Divisional Railway Manager Ashok Kumar Verma pointed out that other railways too have cancelled trains such as Mysuru-Chennai Shatabdi Express.
“Due to increasing cases, there is pressure on using our resources. Wherever there is demand, we run special trains. For instance, we have operated many trains between Bengaluru and Danapur,” Mr. Verma said.
However, the decision to cancel services, especially to KIA and suburban stations, has not gone down well with rail activists.
Rail activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said: “The railways should have continued with airport services for the benefit of people working there. Officials could have explored the possibility of running express trains to the airport with limited stops at Kengeri, Bengaluru, and Baiyappanahalli as tracks do not have much traffic. It could have helped people working at the cargo division of the airport and air passengers.”
The SWR had introduced train services with a halt at KIA in the first week of January, but according to officials, patronage remained poor. This is the second time the SWR is cancelling services to the airport. In March, services had been suspended for over 20 days to facilitate maintenance work.
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