KOLLAM: Renewal of the railway track has commenced in the vulnerable 40-km Kollam-Kayamkulam stretch. The work is being taken up for commuters’ safety. Ballast cleaning has not been taken up in the down line for almost a decade and for two decades in the up line.
Cleaning of the ballast beneath the sleepers using the ballast cleaning machine after enforcing a four-hour line block was not attempted due to lack of ‘corridor blocks,’ increase in passenger trains from Kollam Junction, and special trains for Ayyappa devotees running up to Kollam.
A ballast bed without any dirt and earth is needed for the smooth train movement, draining of rain water, and to absorb the resonance and transfer it to the ground.
“Without inconveniencing the commuters, we have commenced the track renewal along the corridor when the weather is good,” Divisional Railway Manager Prakash Bhutani said.
As much as 20% cleaning of the ballast in the down line has been completed. After mechanised ballast cleaning, worn-out concrete sleepers weighing 275 kg to 300 kg are being replaced manually. Track renewal has been completed in the 25-km Kollam-Karungapally stretch after enforcing line block. In the Kollam-Perinad section, 5 km of railway track has to be replaced. Railways are waiting for the track relaying train that can relay the track in 400 to 500 metres at a stretch in four-and-a-half hours.
Railways are using rails of 65 m instead of the conventional 13 m. A senior official of the engineering department said four 65 m rails are welded at the steel plant itself and transported to the site. “Thus, only four welding is needed in a km. This reduces the field work and ensures quality. We had also found that fissures develop on stretches mostly where field welding takes place,” he said.