Peninsular Railway Zone top on wish list

Will the change of guard at the Centre and the “next door” Union Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda help Kerala accomplish the aspirations for the development of the railway network of the State and put an end to the neglect meted out over the years?

Rail users and officials in Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad divisions are hoping that Kerala will get a better deal in the maiden Railway Budget being presented by Mr. Gowda in the Lok Sabha on July 8.

Peninsular zone

The big question doing the rounds is whether Mr. Gowda will announce the long-pending formation of the Peninsular Railway Zone for Kerala.

Railway sources said the zone is likely to be a compensation for the bifurcation of the truncated Palakkad railway division for creating a new division in Mangalore.

The State had followed the homework done in November last by prioritising the needs of the rail network and seeking more funds after the BJP came to power.

CM writes to Modi

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had personally written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Gowda in May on the immediate needs.

It is learnt that the State did not give an exhaustive list or memorandum on the railway development as in November last for consideration in the Railway Budget.

Priority list

Official sources said the Chief Minister had personally taken up the critical projects identified with the Union Railway Minister during his visit to New Delhi. The priority list of pending projects and railway works was circulated among the MPs from the State at a pre-budget meeting convened here on June 27.

The State is hopeful of an enhanced allocation for the sanctioned projects in addition to new projects and trains this time like when BJP leader O. Rajagopal was Minister of State for Railways in the Vajpayee government.

Last budget

The State was given a meagre allocation and a poor deal in terms of new projects and trains in the 2013-14 Railway Budget and in the interim budget presented in February before the Lok Sabha elections.

The resource crunch faced by the Railways will be reflected in the budget to be presented by Mr. Gowda. The Railways had been demanding 50 per cent cost sharing for new projects and the Public-Private- Partnership mode even for doubling and laying new railway lines, the sources said.