South East Coast Railway could be the New Railway Zone for Andhra Pradesh

Move is not only the outcome of pressure exerted by people’s representatives of Andhra Pradesh, but will help the State justify its MOU with Ministry Railways on cost-sharing for the railway infrastructure development on equitable proposition.

VIJAYAWADA: South East Coast Railway (SECoR) is likely to become a reality soon with the Central Government and the Railway Ministry bowing to the pressure exerted by Andhra Pradesh Government and public representatives to form the new railway zone. Although not officially revealed, this could well be the name of the zone to be carved out of taking a Railway Division of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) and three out of South Central Railway (SCR) i.e. Vijayawada Division, Guntur Division and Guntakal Division – a highly placed source in the Ministry of Railways indicated. This is happening even as there is a section which says that it makes practical sense to have the new zonal headquarters at Amaravati/Vijayawada, instead of Visakhapatnam. SCR’s Guntakal, Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions are to be carved out for the new zone apart from Visakhapatnam Division of East Coast Railway.

Formation of new Railway Zone entails not only for creation of the Socio-political and administrative functionary but also for the operational reasons as it would be the centrally located for various freight and passenger trains passing from north to south, east to south and from west to south originating from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata onwards to Chennai, Bangalore and Kerala through the key Railway junctions of Balharshah, Kazipet, Vijayawada and Gudur/Renigunta. Boundaries could extend up to Wadi with Central Railway & SCR, Gudur with Southern Railway, Pagidipalli with SCR, Katpadi with SR, Kondapalli with SCR, Bellary with South Western Railway and Guntakal and Dharmavaram with SCR.

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Incidentally, a high-powered committee set up by Indian Railways recommended against formation of separate zone pointing out that it would make ECR weaker because Waltair/Visakhapatnam division garners majority of revenue and other two divisions of Khurda Road and Sambalpur are relatively small. Waltair Division transcends over Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh with 1,052 km route and 2,165 km of track plus 119 stations. Officials contend 30% of this could be carved out for the new zone, whether route-wise or region-wise is not clear for now. However, a member of the steering committee said that the following routes could be allocated to the South East Coast Railway:

Visakhapatnam Division Vijayawada Division Guntur Division Guntakal Division

Anakapalli-Visakhapatnam-Berhampur – (310 Kms)

Kottavalasa-Koraput-Kirandul – (445 Kms)

Vizianagaram-Theruvali (144 Kms)

Koraput-Singapuram (175 Kms)

Bobbili-Salur (19 Kms)

Naupada-Gunupur (90 Kms)

Existing total operational jurisdiction of the Division comprising of 960 Route Kms. Existing total operational jurisdiction of the Division comprising of 629.72 Route kms. Existing total operational jurisdiction of the Division comprising of 1872.47 Route kms

This move of creation of separate Railway Zone for Andhra Pradesh ensures not only creation of many job opportunities for individuals along with indirect employment to many others in ancillary and associated sectors, especially the zone that is to be created has surplus revenue, it is sure to spur the developmental activities within the zone. Also, since the MOU has been signed by the Govt.of Andhra Pradesh with Ministry of Railways for 50:50 cost sharing for various railway development activities, the justification for carving out a new Zonal Railway system for AP will surely facilitate the State Government focus more with Railway Ministry to spruce up the railway infrastructure and strengthen the safety, in addition, facilitating better connectivity to various cities within AP, including capital city Amaravati, the new zone would help introduce long-distance trains outside the state.