Thiruvananthapuram: In a bid to provide smooth
and hassle free journey for the lakhs of pilgrims
visiting Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, Indian Railways
have geared up its resources and would run 674 special trains
for the current year Sabrimala pilgrimage season that began
Out of the total 674, Southern Railway would run 448 trains,
while South Central 140, South Western 56 and Central Railway
28. For the first time, two special trains to help Ayyappa
devotees coming from Eastern states would be run by North
Eastern Frontier Railway, Division Railway Manger Rajiv Dutt
Sharma told reporters here Friday.
The trains would start from destinations including Chennai,
Egmore, Bangalore, Hubli, Hyderabad, Vijayawada,Dadar, Kurla
Machilipattnam and Guruvayour.
In addition to the special trains, railway would also
augment 660 sleeper coaches and 30 air conditioned coaches
in the existing trains, he said. The special trains would
terminate at Ernakulam, Kollam, Kochuveli, Nagercovil.
Reservation for seats in these trains had started. Most of
trains would run during the peak time of pilgrim season
between January 7 and January 14.
The Special Computerised Reservation system had also started
functioning at the foothill of the shrine Pamba.
In addition to the regular Information Centres at Chengannur,
Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thiruvala, additional information
counters would function with staff conversant in Telgu, Tamil,
Kannada and Hindi.
Besides, pre-paid autorickshaw and taxi stand, permission
has been granted to Kerala State Road Transport Corporation
to operate bus services from Chengannur, Kottayam and
Ernakulam Junction, where majority of the pilgrims alight
to proceed to Sabarimala.
Medical facilities have also been arranged in many of the
important stations on the way to Kottayam. A special task
force would be deployed to meet any eventuality during the
peak rush after the `Makaravilaku festival on January 14.