Rajesh Agrawal, Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager, has expressed serious concern over the gross underutilisation of the rail corridor linking the Vallarpadam transshipment terminal with Edappally. He was interacting with reporters here on Thursday. India’s longest rail bridge (4.62 km) is part of the 8.86-km-long rail corridor.
He said now, only one train plied the rail route, exclusively meant for goods container traffic to and from the terminal, every week. This was mostly because goods transporters preferred to transport containers by road. The rail corridor could be put to optimum use only if at least three to five trains plied the route every day, he said.
[Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL) had constructed the dedicated track linking the terminal with Edappally station in record time. The track is underused as most containers are transported in lorries through congested highways.]
This practice has derailed the Railway’s ambitious project to transport 10 million tonnes of cargo in five years’ time from the terminal and Kochi port. The port had lost out to other ports in the South India, Mr. Agrawal said.
To ferry more goods from the terminal and port through trains, railway engineers are engaged in restoring deserted tracks and wharfs of Kochi port.
“We hope to achieve some breakthrough in transporting goods from the adjacent Harbour Terminus railway station,” he said.
Similarly, the initiative to transport vegetables from the State to 21 destinations in the country in coaches tagged ‘Kairali Queen’ lost steam since the Railway needed a large number of farmers rather than a few farmers to use the facility. We have discussed the matter with the State government and steps are on the anvil to transport vegetables to metro cities, with Kochi as the nodal point. Farmers will get much more for their produce if they take the rail route.
Onam special trains
On widespread complaints of inadequate special trains to Kerala during Onam, Mr. Agrawal said more coaches would be added to trains to cater to the festival rush. The Railways have announced two special trains: Kottayam-Nagercoil-Mangalore Junction Express and Yeshwantpur-Kochuveli Express.
He said steps were being taken to strengthen coach-maintenance depots in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. “A depot is being developed in Kochuveli.”
He said a master plan for the old railway station was ready.