Kochi: With only four months left for the Oommen Chandy government to complete its tenure, the UDF is keenly exploring the possibilities of at least conducting the trial run of the Kochi Metro Rail before the election code of conduct comes into effect.
The prospects of commissioning the Metro project, at least up to Palarivattom, before the end of the government’s tenure, has become bleak. The trial run will be crucial for the government, as the UDF will be highlighting the Metro project as its key achievement in the forthcoming Assembly election. Construction of the 25-km Metro Rail between Aluva and Tripunithura began in June 2013.
The original deadline for commissioning of tthe project, June 2016, was revised after various delays including those caused by land acquisition issues affected the progress of the work. As per the revised schedule, the 18-km stretch from Aluva to Maharajah’s College would have been completed by June 2016. However, the deadline was revised once again, and it is currently projected that the project would be completed up to Palarivattom by June 2016.
Meanwhile, the agreement between the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and implementing agency Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is set to expire in June 2017. Considering the slow pace of work in the fourth reach of the project – between Vyttila and Petta – DMRC officials are not able to even assure that phase-I upto Petta would be completed before expiry of the contract.According to sources, widening of the Vyttila-Petta road will take at least eight months. “Work can be started only after completion of road widening. Along with that, reconstruction of the Chambakkakra bridge also needs to be completed.
“Another time-consuming work is construction activities to be undertaken at the Ernakulam South railway station. As of now, work until Vyttila will be completed before expiry of the agreement. Beyond that, we need to complete the preparatory works before taking up the main work,” they added.
Metro’s rail-laying pace set to double
Rail-laying work for Kochi Metro is set to double its speed in a week as another batch of workers is set to be deployed soon.
IRCON (a sister concern of Indian Railway) – the contractor entrusted with the works, is laying an average of 45 metres of rails daily using a batch of its workforce. This will double to 90 metres when another batch is deployed from Wednesday. Two more batches will join in by January, taking the quantum of rails laid each day to 200 metres, said Dani Thomas, Kochi Project Director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
The firm has so far completed laying 3.5 km of rails in the Kalamassery region and within the coach-maintenance yard at Muttom, while 9 km of rails have been fused together. The up-lane from Aluva to the city is being given preference in rail-laying, to conduct trial runs from early 2016 in the Aluva-Palarivattom corridor. The first batch of three coaches for Kochi Metro is expected to arrive here in January first week.
Two flash-butt welding plants have been deployed – one along the metro viaduct at Kalamassery and another in the Muttom yard, to join 18-metre-long rails. Rails for the viaduct were shipped here from France, while indigenously-made rails would be used in the yard.
The rails having design speed of 90 km per hour have been tailor-made for metro trains that would attain operational speed of up to 80 km per hour. Imported head-hardened rails are being used along the metro viaduct since they can withstand much more wear and tear than conventional rails, Mr.Thomas said.