Hopes on rail declarations for Kerala go in vain

Kottayam:  With the Lok Sabha completing the discussions on Railway budget-2015 by Saturday, the expectations of the State for additional declarations during the Budget discussions, including new trains, new lines and funds for projects declared in the previous budget, appear to be in vain.

Though, Kerala had received comparatively better share of doubling works, the development impediments could not be removed without materialising the terminals in more stations, according to experts.

One of the major setbacks for the State was that the Railway ministry, once again, ignored the demand for fund allocation for new coaching terminals at Kottayam and Nemom, which were sanctioned in 2011 by the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“Lack of terminus facilities is the main reason for inadequate train services from cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities to Kerala.

“It is surprising and shocking that after four years and four more Railway Budgets were passed by the Railway Ministry, no fund is sanctioned for Kottayam and Nemon Terminus,” said Thomas Simon, general secretary, Western India Passengers’ Association.

He added that more trains can be launched from Kottayam to various destinations if the station is upgraded as a terminal station.

“It is high time for Kottayam station to be elevated as a terminal station taking into account the importance of Kottayam, which is the nearest Railway station for Sabarimala pilgrims, and an important place of Malayali  employees working in other states.

Kottayam Station has enough space to construct two more platforms, in addition to the three existing platforms and these are enough to start at least 10 Express trains a day to Goa, Bangalore, Mumbai, Coimbatore etc,” Simon said.

Meanwhile, Kottayam MP Jose K Mani told that he has already raised the issue in the Parliament and will continue to put pressure on the ministry for the allocation of fund. “The number of trains from Kottayam will be doubled if it becomes a terminal station. I have already made a special submission in the Parliament in this regard,” he said.

Apart from that, if Kottayam becomes Coaching Terminus, Chingavanam station can be developed as a freight Terminus and Goods operations of Kottayam and Tiruvalla stations could be shifted to Chingavanam as well. With Nattakom Inland Port very near, it will facilitate Container loading to the station. Moreover, the proposed Nemam Terminus (Trivandrum South), and the completion of the works for additional platforms at Kochuveli terminal station would also bring more trains to Kerala. In addition to this, extra efforts must be taken by MPs from Kerala for the realisation of new rail lines, approved for surveys in earlier Budgets, that include Thakazhy-Tiruvalla; Tiruvalla_Ranni- Pampa; Erumeli-Ranni- Punalur and Kannur – Mattannur