The Southern Railways has announced that it will operate three more inter-state special trains between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Alappuzha-Chennai daily special train, the Kollam-Chennai Anantapuri Express and the Ernakulam - Karaikal Tea Garden Express are the ones which will resume services. All of them are daily special trains running between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The three services are in addition to Kerala Express running from Thiruvananthapuram to New Delhi with stops in Tamil Nadu at Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Erode junction, Salem, Jolarpettai and Katpadi. With this, there will be four inter-state daily services running between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Southern Railways PRO confirmed to TNM.
Kerala has been running inter-district special trains in order to facilitate movement within the state, especially for those commuters working in different districts. In early September, passengers in Kerala protested after the Railway Board decided to stop three train services - namely the Thiruvananthapuram-Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode Jan Shatabdi Express and the Thiruvananthapuram -Ernakulam Venad Express. These train services were only just restarted in May 2020, during Unlock 3 phase of relaxations.
The Railway Board decided to cancel the trains citing low occupancy. A decision to cancel all trains with occupancy levels lower than 25 percent was taken. However, following protests by passengers, the decision was revoked and the train services were reinstated.
Passengers also asked the Railways to start more special trains, particularly connecting the northern Malabar districts, in order to facilitate better movement. Demands were raised for the restarting of the Ernad and the Parasuram Express running from Mangaluru Central to Nagercoil and vice versa, as well as the Memu trains to increase inter-district connectivity.
However, with Kerala witnessing a sudden surge in coronavirus infections (the state reported 8830 cases on Wednesday) and the Chief Minister calling for stricter restrictions, it is yet to be seen whether public transport services will be cut down to curb movement of people between districts.