मंगलूरु Mangalore (MAQ): Sources in New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) sounded not very keen on funding the line doubling of the Hassan-Mangalore. “Doubling proposal is already with the Ministry of Railways and the final survey itself is not yet over, which is likely to be completed by this year end. If the Ministry of Shipping so desires, the trust would take up the responsibility provided the survey from Railways part is over and the cost of the project is tabled for debate and decisions,” the sources said, adding further, “even without line doubling, more trains could be introduced by constructing catch-sidings in the ghat section or providing crossings at four way-side stations, they said”.
However the Railway Board has earlier estimated the cost of the doubling project could be over Rs.2,500 crore at a rate of Rs.10 crore per km in the plains and Rs.25 crore per km in the ghat section.
Sources in HMRDC said that the bulk of the freight from Karnataka, now being moved out of the country through ports on the eastern coast, could be brought to NMPT upon line doubling. The Railways could run at least 20 freight trains in a day catering to the requirements of the industry as well as NMPT. The HMRDC officials opined that the March 2016 deadline set by Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda for the 172-km Bangalore-Hassan new railway line, if completed on time, may reduce travel time between the two cities. However, it will not bring more trains — freight or passenger — as the bottleneck is in the Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Road (55 km) ghat section. As on date, Railways are operating only 14 trains in a span of 24 hours due to speed restrictions and simultaneous movement of freight and passengers trains in the Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Road ghat section – officials of Hassan-Mangalore Rail Development Corporation (HMRDC), specially constituted for the purpose of construction of the broad gauge line on the stretch, said.
Aware of this bottleneck, Mr.Sadananda Gowda is working towards doubling the rail line. He told that the Ministry is looking for potential investors, including the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), to take up the project. He said that the Railways has allowed elsewhere private parties to construct lines for transporting their freight.
At the same time, the Ministry is in touch with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which has assured it of giving environment clearance for projects in up to 40 hectares of forest land. Mr. Sadananda Gowda is hopeful of getting clearance for the entire 55-km stretch.