VISAKHAPATNAM: The new railway zone, South Coast Railway (SCoR), headquartered at Visakhapatnam is likely to begin operations from February 1 or April 1 of next year. A detailed project report (DPR) was submitted to the railway board by the officer on special duty (OSD) of South Coast Railway in the last week of August with several recommendations.
Once the DPR is approved by the board it would notify a date for formal commencement of the new zone. It would take a minimum of four months for the zone to become operational and reconfigure the existing structures and spaces of Waltair Division to new zonal headquarters, said sources
The DPR had suggested February 1 or April 1 of 2020 for operations to begin. From the commencement date, the railway board would allocate the funds needed for the new zone, sources said. “After approving the DPR, the railway board is likely to create a project cell,” sources said.
The jurisdiction of the commissioner of railway safety would be at Secunderabad. South Central Railway is under the jurisdiction of South Central Circle at Secunderabad whereas Waltair Division is under South Eastern Circle at Kolkata till now. Since the Vijayawada (BZA), Guntur and Guntakal divisions in SCR have now been included in SCoR, its jurisdiction will be brought under South Central Circle, sources in the railways said.
Since the Waltair Division would cease to exist, a sub-divisional set up with ADRM rank officer with a team of officers will ensure its smooth operations. As several important establishments are located at Visakhapatnam it will continue as a major hub for railway operations.
East Coast Railway to lose Rs 3,000 crore due to bifurcation of the Zone
With Andhra Pradesh eyeing all railway lines that fall within its boundary, Odisha may well end up being on the losing side in the bifurcation of Waltair division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) to form the new South Coast Railway (SCoR) zone.
Before the 2019 elections, the Centre gave a go-ahead to the bifurcation which was seen as a bid to appease Andhra and now the neighbouring State is actually making the most of it. The new railway zone comprises Guntakal, Guntur and Vijaywada divisions while Waltair division splits into two – one part merges with Vijayawada division and other converted into a new division with headquarters at Rayagada under ECoR.
But the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of SCoR submitted to Railway Board reveals there is more it to than meets the eye behind bifurcation of Waltair division. The report says, of 1106 km of railway route coming under Waltair, 450 km will be merged with Vijaywada division. Of the rest 656 km, 541 km will be under Rayagada and 115 km under Khurda Road. After bifurcation, SCoR will have rail routes measuring 3496 km but ECoR will have to be satisfied with 2321 km. The new zone could actually have more railway lines if Palasa-Nuapada and Nuapada-Gunupur lines are retained in SCoR as proposed.
“In the event of any decision to keep the jurisdiction of Khurda Road Division unchanged for the time being, Palasa-Naupada mainlines and Naupda-Gunpur branch line may be retained with SCoR as a part of expanded Vijayawada division,” the report says. Sources said the ECoR is expected to lose nearly `3,000 crore revenue which it earned annually from the 450 km freight corridor which will now be handed on a platter to SCoR.
It is proposed to split Kothavasala-Kirandul Line at Araku station and retain the 106 km Kothavasala-Araku line with SCoR while handing over the 340 km Araku (excluding)-Kirandul to Rayagada division.
ECOR to lose Rs 3,000 crore
As proposed, all track routes of Waltair division running within AP (except a small part from Naupada to Ichhapuram) will be in SCoR, but Rayagada will not have a direct approach from ECoR until the proposed Theruvali-Gunupur new line is completed. Completion of the rail line seems unlikely in next one decade as only `one crore has been given in the budget out of an old estimate of `935 crore.
Ideally, Rayagada being a new division, should have direct link with ECoR and it can only be possible if SCoR can be unlinked from Visakhapatnam to Korukunda. “When Vijaywada division already has 964 km of railway line, what is the logic of adding 450 km more? If Vizianagaram can be added in Rayagada division, it will not only have direct link with ECoR, but also the latter will lose only 221 km instead of 450 km,” said an official.
Moreover, the proposal of Srikakulam MP Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu to Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal requesting him to keep the AP portions of railway line that are currently under Khurda division under the control of SCoR has raised concerns.“If they want entire AP portions in the new zone, Railway Board should also consider Odisha’s demand for handing over Jharsuguda-Rourkela-Bondamunda and Balasore-Rupsa-Jaleswar to ECoR on compensation ground,” official sources added.