मडगांव Madgaon (MAO): While union railway minister Suresh Prabhu goes about the task of turning around the fortunes of the Konkan Railway, the Goan flavor will carry its indelible mark on the makeover moves. Literally so, believe the sources in the know of things.
Importantly, the spill-over effect of the development projects is expected to benefit Goan economy.
From providing Konkan cuisine at the railway stations along the route, to training taxi drivers and motorcycle pilots in the state to serve as tourist guides, and from upgrading the Tivim railway station to developing the Sawantwadi station into a terminus, sources said that Prabhu’s focus has been in developing passenger amenities at the stations while also intensifying community participation in the development of the Konkan Railway.
A sense of optimism reigns high among the commuters of the Goa and Konkan region following Prabhu’s taking over of the railway ministry. Not without a reason, though. It is the first time since the commissioning of the Konkan Railway in 1988 that a person from the Konkan belt has become a railway minister.
Prabhu was four times member of parliament from the Rajapur (now Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri) constituency, though he did not contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Sources said that Prabhu’s qualifications as a chartered accountant would enable him to have a better grasp of the Konkan Railway’s corporate accounting affairs and steward its fortunes.
Prabhu’s Goa connection— his wife hails from Ribander—has also served in rubbing that sense of cheer among the Goan commuters as well, sources said.
Sources in the Konkan Railway are also hopeful that its two important projects—double tracking of the line from Roha to Mangalore and its electrification, will soon take shape. Electrification of the 741 km route is estimated to cost 700 cr, while 1500 crore is needed for doubling the line, sources said.
It is also believed that these two projects have the potential to alter the dynamics of the Konkan Railway. Once it switches over to electric mode of train movements from the current diesel-based operations, the Konkan Railway is expected to translate into a savings of 100 crore per year for the KRC.
The doubling of the track will help increase the capacity of the railway line from the current 68 trains (freight and passenger) per day to nearly 120, sources said. Doubling of tracks will also mean creating new stations and converting the 28 stations with two lines into those with a third line. A third line will allow trains to pass each other much faster at stations.
Sources said that it is imperative for the Konkan Railway to get cracking on the electrification project, as any delay would pose a major operational challenge for the railways. Electrification work on Southern Railway’s Shorannur junction in Kerala to Mangalore is being fast tracked and is expected to be completed by March 2015. The doubling of the Panvel-Roha line by Central Railway is also expected to be completed by this financial year and its electrification by 2017.
“As either ends of the Konkan Railway would then be electrified, it would require trains to switch over from electric locomotives to diesel powered ones before entering the Konkan Railway zone at both ends, Roha and Mangalore. The Konkan Railway would definitely like to avoid such a prospect,” a source in the know said.