Doubling of Konkan rail tracks from November 8: Suresh Prabhu
Panaji: Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu has said that there is a need to double the Mumbai-Goa-Konkan railway line to decongest traffic. Prabhu was speaking on the sidelines of an event at Goa University on Friday.
The country’s first double-decker Shatabdi train will soon run between Mumbai and Goa, said the Railway Minister speaking at a function organised by Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd here to lay the foundation stone for the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology.
The announcement came minutes after Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar urged Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu to give additional trains to Goa considering a large inflow of tourists, especially during long weekends.
Prabhu, who hails from Maharashtra’s Konkan, said that the single line track was overwhelmed and needed doubling.
“Konkan Railway when it was created was only a single track. We need a multiple track because it is very difficult to move freight traffic as well as passengers on a single track,” he said.
The Konkan Railway Corporation (KRC) runs a net loss but the doubling of the track would help it earn more revenue from the additional traffic, Prabhu said.
He apprised that the cost of the doubling of track along the 736 kms long railway stretch is expected to cost around Rs 10,500 crore and the work will be taken up in stages.
The Konkan Railway Corporation is expected to raise the money through loans from the World Bank, Japan International Development Agency, other financial institutions as well as by using the IPO route.
Prabhu said the Konkan Railway was looking to electrify the entire route to save on costs and preserve environment along ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.
“If you keep using this much amount of diesel, it will damage environment and it (diesel) is also expensive. It has been proved in many places that electrification payback period is very short,” he said.
“Western Ghats is one of the hot spots of biodiversity in the world. Using electric power will be far better,” the railways minister said, adding that Konkan Railway would try its best to tap solar and wind power for operational purposes.
Mr.Prabhu said the Konkan Railway was looking to electrify the entire length of the route (736 km), in order to save costs as well as preserve the environment along the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats route. “We need a multiple track because it is very hard to move freight traffic as well as passengers on a single track”, he said.
The cost of track doubling on the 736-km stretch would cost around Rs.10,500 crore. KRC is likely to improve the cash through IPO route in addition to through loans. “It has been proved in many places that electrification payback period is very short”, Mr. Prabhu said adding that KRCL would also try its best to tap solar and wind generated electricity for operational purposes. Prabhu said the route will also be electrified in a bid to not only be more efficient but also save the environment through the ecologically sensitive route that the railway passes.
Prabhu has also announced that the Indian Railways will soon start the country’s first-ever double decker Shatabdi Express that would ply between Mumbai and Goa.
“One double decker AC train between Mumbai and Goa should run as Shatabdi. We will make it happen as soon as possible. This would become the first-ever double decker Shatabdi,” Prabhu said on the sidelines of an event at the Goa University on Friday.
On demand of a special Goa Rajdhani Express train, he said he will “definitely look into it”.
Residents of Goa seeking Rajdhani luxury train services have to rely on the Trivandrum Rajdhani which passes through Goa and makes a halt at Margao in South Goa.
Responding to concerns to allow more tourists to make train journeys into Goa, Prabhu said the Railways can also start holiday train for tourists.
“We can even start an IRCTC holiday train. We can do it and also run such a train so that we can bring more tourists to Goa,” Prabhu said.