The most cutting-edge transportation systems, orbital rockets, are launched thanks to workers supporting the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at the nation’s spaceport Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC). They launch India into space and see to it that the Indian tricolor soars high, even as it travels in the equatorial and other planetary orbits. Ironically, Spaceport Personnel themselves must write to the Indian government to request the Indian Railways’ most basic train services.
The staff at ISRO’s spaceport wrote a letter to Dr. Jitendra Singh, ISRO’s Minister-in-Charge, asking that more trains stop at the Sullurupeta station, which they rely on for their daily commutes to their individual homes and places of origin.
An isolated barrier island about 100 miles north of Chennai, the largest city in southern India, is where SDSC is located. The trains that pass by the closest railway station at Sullurupeta, which is about 25 km from the spaceport, are the main mode of transportation for the thousands of employees who work at the spaceport and the retired employees who live nearby. Sriharikota, a sizable barrier island covering more than 43,000 acres, gained notoriety only when ISRO built a spaceport there in the 1970s.
Spaceport Personnel Request Indian government for most basic train services
As ISRO’s space operations acquired national attention, development initiatives in the area eventually got underway. However, even now, visitors to Sriharikota only throng to the ISRO Launch Viewers Gallery at peak times for foot and vehicle traffic. Sullurupeta is often simply another Indian town on other days.
The letter by SHAR (Sriharikota Range) Employees Trade Union highlights the potential for Indian Railways in the sector by pointing out that the Sullurupeta station is a hub from which passengers can travel to the Spaceport, the industrial park or Special Economic Zone Sri City, pilgrimage centers like Shri Chengalamma temple and Venadu mosque, and tourist attractions like Pulicat lake and Nelapattu bird sanctuary.
Dr. Singh, who is the Minister of State for Science and Technology for the Indian Government, has visited the spaceport several times and has seen significant rocket launch missions. Dr. Singh has most recently been there for the September 2 launch of India’s first Sun-study mission, Aditya-L1.
“Sullurupeta Railway Station serves as a hub for the commuting and traveling needs of Sri City’s workers who come from all areas of the nation as well as the working cadre of SDSC-SHAR. The absence of adequate trains stopping at Sullurupeta Railway Station is causing comparable issues for all people as they commute to their homes, according to a letter written by a group of Spaceport personnel.
The staff has asked Dr. Jitendra Singh’s office to communicate their request to the relevant Ministry so that more long-distance trains would stop at this station and additional rail services would be extended up to Sullurupeta, among other things. The list provided by the staff includes nine trains, including the Sanghamitra SuperFast Express, Grand Trunk, Howrah Mail/Chennai Mail, and Tatanagar Express, among others.
The majority of trains that were traveling through Sullurupeta did not stop here. A train only stops here around once per hour. According to Sri Saidatta, a college student and space enthusiast, the Sullurupeta station’s basic amenities, such as the waiting rooms and restrooms, are in bad shape and do not even have drinking water.
On September 2, he boarded a train from Warangal, Telangana, where he was from, to Sullurupeta, Andhra Pradesh, where he would visit Sriharikota and see his first-ever rocket launch, the Aditya-L1/PSLV-C-57. Even for people in the highest levels of ISRO, getting to the spaceport would require taking a flight from their city to Chennai and then driving for three hours on a long-under-construction roadway to Srihaikota.
Despite the fact that ISRO has made rocketry and successful launches seem so simple (due to their painstaking work over many years), those who go by road and rail to ISRO’s spaceport encounter the same logistical challenges. The President and Prime Minister of India are the only sacred exceptions, and they are able to take a helicopter to the spaceport.