Kochi: In what can be described as a shocker, the Southern Railway derails the project to revive and develop the old railway station near the Kerala High Court.
On Tuesday, Southern Railway general manager Rakesh Misra virtually ruled out the Rs 300-crore project for a terminus on the grounds that land in possession of the railways was not sufficient.
Misra’s review came after Thiruvananthapuram railway division submitted the project to the railway board for approval and inclusion in the upcoming railway budget.
Speaking to the media after visiting the station, Misra said, “In order to develop this into a terminus, we require a minimum of two railway lines. At present, we don’t have sufficient land for two lines and the shunting neck. The project will require land acquisition, especially near the level crossing (Pachalam), as the shunting neck will go beyond the area. I don’t see any immediate future for the project.”
Misra said that though land can be purchased, it was difficult to find land. “We will need half of the road running along the railway tracks,” he said.
The shunting neck is a short length of track laid parallel to the main line for allowing trains to shunt back into a siding or rail yard without occupying the main running line. He further said that the project may also require environmental clearance which may not be easy. However, shocked railway officials here said that the project can be executed even with a single line. “The project may not be possible with a double line. But even with a single line, the project is viable and the shunting neck can be laid in the available land,” said a railway official.
Meanwhile, Ernakulam Old Railway Station Vikasana Samithi dismissed the general manager’s objection for developing the station into a terminus.
“The land available is sufficient for the project. You can operate trains on the single line and the old track is already there. If the railway drops the project, we will start a public protest demanding the station’s revival,” said samithi general convener K P Harihara Kumar. He also rejected the general manager’s claim that there was not enough land for the shunting neck.
Speaking to media after Misra’s visit, CPM leader M M Lawrence said, “The railway manager’s response was very negative. I think that he made such a statement under someone’s influence. In order to make the project a reality, elected representatives, including union minister K V Thomas and Hibi Eden MLA, should interfere in the issue.”