“It is time Harbour Terminus, Tripunithura, Edappally and Kalamassery railway stations are renovated and upgraded,” Union Minister for Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution System K.V. Thomas said on Monday.

This would enable more trains to stop here, he said after inaugurating the first escalator at a railway station in Kerala at Ernakulam Junction. The escalator on platform one of Ernakulam Junction was built at a cost of Rs 78.05 lakh. “Three more escalators and two lifts have been planned at the station. The tender process is on for building escalators at Ernakulam Town and Aluva railway stations,” Mr Thomas said.

Mr. Thomas said a master plan was ready to upgrade the station. Nothing much has moved on the ground so far to upgrade it into a world-class one despite it being promised in two railway budgets five to six years ago.

Food grains hub

He said plans were afoot to make Harbour Terminus station in Willingdon Island a hub for transporting food grains across Kerala.

At present, trains bring in food grains from other States to Kerala. Two ships can carry as much food grains as 40 goods trains. Thus, ships from ports in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha could bring rice to Kochi, from where it could be taken by trains to places across Kerala, he said.

A modern Food Corporation of India (FCI) godown had been planned at the island for this purpose, he said. The prompt completion of Venduruthy rail overbridge is crucial for this.

Mr. Thomas said the railways must roll out modern coaches and rebuild/modernise British-era railway stations that were aplenty. He said old, dirty coaches and ill-maintained railway stations were the bane of India’s railway system. Bio-toilets remained a far cry.

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