Vijayawada: The local Railway officials are hoping that the Vijayawada which is currently one of the biggest Railway division under South Central Railway, may get Zonal Railway status under the new South East Coast Railway (SECoR), after reports that the Group of Ministers is of the view that a new Railway Zone may be needed for the residual state of Andhra Pradesh.
If one goes by the priorities of the railway, Vijayawada Division has the best chance to get zonal status, compared to the other railway divisions in the state.
The division already has a significant presence in the Indian Railways, with the city railway station being the second busiest railway junction after Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
Every day, about 1.4 lakh passengers travel through the city railway station. Apart from this, the junction is said to be connection between North and South India.
Vijayawada railway division extends from Duvvada of East Godavari district to Guduru of Nellore district. Its annual income crosses Rs.2,000 crore and it has nearly 22,000 employees.
At present, the Indian Railway functions in a zonal system. The Vijayawada division falls under SCR/Secunderabad zone along with Guntur, Guntakal, Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Nanded divisions.
On the other hand, the area bordering Duvvada to Ichapuram falls under the limits of Waltair division, and under the East Coast Railway zone of Odisha state. Geographically, it is on the edge of the state limits. In this backdrop, public representatives from Visakhapatnam railway divisional jurisdiction have been long demanding that the Waltair division be attached to the SCR.
As per railway norms, the railway board generally upgrades or establishes divisions as new zones after considering the existing income, importance and connectivity to divisions and zones of other states.
The railway management also takes steps to upgrade considering the passenger flow and potential of the area, and also its proximity to the state’s capital.
The Vijayawada division has all the necessary advantages than any other divisions of the state and speculation is that the city may be selected as the New Capital for residual state of AP.
Railway officials and unions have already submitted their representations to the GoM. Most of the employees requested the GoM to upgrade the Vijayawada Railway Division to a new zone and Waltair Division (Visakhapatnam) be attached to new zone alongwith Guntur, Guntakal merged under a new zonal railway name viz. South East Coast Railway (SECoR). There is also a persistent demand that a new Divisional Railway system be carved out of Tirupati, to be attached to SECoR.
Political Parties, NRIs, Industrialists, Students, Public and the Government Employees have planned to chalk out a plan of action to structurise their demand in association with Railway officials and employee unions. SCR Mazdoor Union Zonal leader Ch. Shankar Rao opined that there was a good chance of the division being upgraded and many representations are being received now and then to carve out a new zonal railway for Andhra.