Buoyed by the launch of mainline electric multiple unit (MEMU) service between Coimbatore and Mettupalayam section, which has since been receiving good passenger patronage, demand has been growing from the public to introduce MEMU service from Coimbatore to Pollachi as well.
“The MEMU services introduced a few days ago between Coimbatore and Mettupalayam is running to full capacity on both the routes. They are running with 100 per cent occupancy,” said a railway official.
“A bus leaves for Pollachi from Ukkadam bus terminus in Coimbatore every three minutes, fully packed with passengers. Roughly about 20,000 people travel between Coimbatore and Pollachi a day, coughing up a huge amount as bus fare. The harried passengers will switch over to MEMU for their travel if it is brought in. travelling time on the route will also come down and vehicle emissions would reduce considerably,” said M Jameel Ahamed, chairman of Coimbatore Rail Users Welfare Association.
Following persistent demands from the public and passenger associations, the railways is going to take up electrification from Podanur to Pollachi and up to Palani. Many feel this could be the precursor to introducing MEMU service.
“The Railway is expected to issue tenders for electrification of the route on November 14. After finalisation of tenders, the work is expected to be completed in 300 days. Once the electrification works get over, there is high prospects of introducing the MEMU services,” said B Mohan Raj, secretary of Pollachi Train Passengers Association.
However, a senior official of the Salem Division of the Southern Railway did not confirm if tenders were to be called for electrification.
“The Railway is working with an objective of reaching 100 per cent electrification. But there has so far been no official communication on electrification work [on this route],” said the official, pointing out that Podanur-Pollachi section comes under the Palakkad Division. According to him, the passenger trains that run from Coimbatore to Pollachi are indeed running full.
However, the patronage is less on the return direction, he added. Passengers, however, want the newly introduced MEMU from Mettupalayam to be extended till Pollachi after electrification work. “Almost 50 per cent of the 1,000-odd commuters who take the passenger train from Pollachi to Coimbatore proceed further on Mettupalayam MEMU,” said Mohan Raj.