Doubling of 100km Kayamkulam-Alappuzha-Ernakulam coastal rail corridor stalled as Railways insist 50% cost sharing

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The much-needed doubling of the 100 km Kayamkulam-Alappuzha-Ernakulam coastal rail corridor has been stalled with the cash-strapped Railways insisting on 50% cost sharing with the State for three corridors.

The bone of contention between the State and Railways is on the 7.7 km Ernakulam-Kumbalam sanctioned by Railways in 2010-11, the 15.59 Kumbalam-Turavur patch doubling approved in 2011-12 and the 45.9 km Turavur-Ambalapuzha line sanctioned in 2015-16.

Works have been stalled with the Ministry of Railways asking the zonal railways — Southern Railway — to keep the three projects in ‘abeyance’ and not to ‘infuse fresh funds till further orders’.

Decision of the Ministry after a review of the projects has come at a time when sanction for the three doubling projects is awaited.

According to the Railways, the estimate for Ernakulam-Kumbalam stretch has touched ₹189.24 crore as per the current rates of the construction materials, ₹253 crore for the Kumbalam-Tharavur patch doubling and ₹625.50 crore for the Turavur-Ambalapuzha corridor.

A top Southern Railway official told that the chances of the revival of the doubling works of the three stretches are possible by the Railways only if the State agrees to share 50% of the estimated cost. The State has to take a call as the Railways is cash-strapped and political lobbying will not yield results.

A sum of ₹1,000 crore was needed from the State as its share of the estimated cost, the official said. Going by the financial crisis faced by the State exchequer and the priorities, the Railways are of the view that it is unlikely in the near future.

For the State and the Railways, the completion of the doubling of the coastal line via Alappuzha is vital for the further development of the railway network and to bring more long distance mail and express trains to the State capital. A coastal line with two tracks will also come in handy once the railway line from Ernakulam to Kayamkulam via Kottayam gets disrupted. At present, the 13 km from Kayamkulam to Haripad has a double line. The work to lay the double in the next 18 km from Haripad to Ambalappuzha is on and the railways has fixed May 2020 as the target for comissioning the project.