Punalur: The Velankanni Express has been extended to Ernakulam and the train was given a warm welcome at the railway station here on its inaugural trip.
The train had started its service three months ago. It used to leave Velankanni at 5 pm on Sunday to reach Kollam by 8.45 am on Monday. For the return, the train left Kollam at 4 pm and reached Velankanni on Tuesday morning. However, this schedule was inconvenient for pilgrims from Kerala who had to depend on other means for a trip to the famous Velankanni shrine.
With the introduction of the new train, pilgrims from Kerala can spend almost 12 hours on Sunday at Velankanni before boarding the return train. A reception was arranged for the train at Punalur where the two loco pilots were garlanded. Around 200 passengers boarded the train from Punalur.
Train timings: No: 06015 Velankanni Express leaves Ernakulam at 11 am on Saturday to reach Kollam at 2.45 pm, Punalur at 4.25 pm, Shencottai at 6.55 pm, Virudunagar at 9.25 pm, Manamadurai at 10.35 pm, Trichy at 1.55 am and 7 am at Velankanni on Sunday.
The trip to Ernakulam commences as train no: 06016 at 6.50 pm on Sunday from Velankanni to touch Trichy at 9.40 pm, Manamadurai at 12.10 am, Virudunagar at 1.45 am, Shencottai at 4.45 am, Punalur at 6.45 am, Kollam at 8 am and Ernakulam at 12.30 pm on Monday.