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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

State expects major announcements in rail budget

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Mamata Banerjee to present rail budget today


Provision for sanctioned projects a challenge

Decongesting network should get priority


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With Assembly elections round the corner, the State has high expectations when Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee presents the railway budget 2011-12 in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

Major announcements are awaited to address the grievances in the railway network in the State. It expects realisation of the projects sanctioned in the previous budgets.

The shifting of E. Ahamed from Railway Ministry to External Affairs Ministry will be felt this time.

Presence of Ministers

But the presence of A.K. Antony, Vayalar Ravi, Mullappally Ramachandran, K.V. Thomas, K.C. Venugopal and Mr. Ahamed in the Union Cabinet will work to the advantage of the State. Efforts of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to regain power in the State by projecting more Centre-sponsored projects are expected to bring in more cheers. Shashi Tharoor, MP, had also submitted a detailed wish list of railway projects for the State.

The biggest challenge before Ms. Banerjee is to make adequate provision for commencing the sanctioned projects for the State and timely completion of the doubling and development works.

The commencement of Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) for short distance commuters, coach factory at Palakkad, wagon unit at Cherthala, railway medical college in capital, drinking water bottling plant and upgrading Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode railway stations with world class facilities are some of the projects sanctioned in the previous budgets but still remain in paper.

Terminal facilities

As the terminal facilities at Thiruvananthapuram Central, Ernakulam and Kozhikode and the line capacity have become over-saturated, railway sources told The Hindu that no proposal had been made to commence new trains from the State this year also.

Railway officials said enhancing the line capacity and pushing for the Rs.250-crore coaching terminal at Nemom were only solutions to decongest the railway network in the coming days.

State's wish list

As in the previous year, the prime demand submitted by Minister for Public Works, who holds the charge of Railways in the State, is formation of a Peninsular Railway Zone with its headquarters in the State. Adequate provision for Sabari railway line, inclusion of State in the proposed dedicated High Speed Corridor and Dedicated Freight Corridor are other demands.

New trains to Bangalore, Kolkatta, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi via Konkan and another one from the capital to the Malabar region are some other demands. Another train had been proposed from Kanyakumari to Goa (via Konkan) and from Kozhikode to Nizamuddin (via Nagpur).

The Railways had been asked to increase the frequency of Rajadhani, Sampark Kranti, Kochuveli-Bangalore, Kannur-Yaswantpur, Garib Rath-Kochuveli Expresses.

The frequency of trains from the North East to the State should also be increased. Railway sources said the State was likely to get at least six new trains in view of the elections despite the over-saturated line and terminal facilities. A new passenger train has been mooted as there are no trains in the Kozhikode-Kannur-Mangalore section between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The rakes of Amritha Express that remain idle at Palakkad from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. could be used for commencing a new intercity service between Palakkad and Kozhikode. Kannur-Ernakulam-Alappuzha Express should be extended to Thiruvananthapuram, Nilambur-Shoranur-Palakkad service should be made a return service and more coaches should be augmented to the popular Maveli, Kannur and Mangalore Expresses.

Extension of trains

Extension of Vanchinad and Malabar Express to start from Nagercoil instead of from Thiruvananthapuram had also been recommended.

Four lane work of the Kochi-Shoranur line to meet the additional traffic arising out of the Vallarpadam Container Terminal along with Kanjangad-Panathur-Kaniyoor line, Nilambur-Nanjancode line (Golden IT Corridor), Thalassery-Mysore line and Kollancode-Thrissur line had been taken up by the State. Survey for extension of Sabari Rail through Pathanamthitta-Punalur to Thiruvananthapuram, Edappally-Guruvayur, Sabarimala-Chengannur, Angadipuram-Kozhikode lines had also been sought. The gauge conversion in the Palakkad-Pollachi and Punalur-Shencotta sections should be expedited.

The State demanded Rs.100 crore as advance for the construction of rail over bridges (ROBs) undertaken through the Public Works Department (PWD) and Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Limited (RBDCK). It also demanded steps to sanction new 44 ROB's.

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