Once a hub of activity, the Old Railway Station now lies in ruins
The Old Railway Station, situated near the High Court building in the city, was once a hub of activity. Situated close to the market with water transport facilities available nearby, the station was a key landmark in Kochi’s history as the State’s commercial capital.
Today, the buildings of the Old Railway Station lie in ruins, with weeds and creeps covering the structures. The standard gauge railway lines running to the station are buried under dirt and weeds. Only curious visitors now step in to take a look at the old terminus.
The station was built in 1902 by King Rama Varma of the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin, who also established the Shoranur-Kochi railway line. The legend goes that the king had to sell 14 gold caparisons of the elephants of the Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple at Tripunithura to fund the rail line, known as the Cochin State Rail Service. The king also built a special waiting room for the royal family near the station. Dignitaries arriving in Kochi passed through the buildings of the historic railway station. Other railway stations – the Ernakulam Junction, Town and Harbour Terminus – soon came up in Kochi and the Old Railway Station was converted to a goods-only station. “Trains bringing goods to a private oil mill near the station kept it running for a while. It was used as a shunting yard for sometime. But it had lost its relevance and was soon shut down,” said Devan Varma, rail historian.
Several plans have been proposed to revive and protect the old station and its grounds. Mr. Varma had proposed converting the station into a rail museum a few years ago. The plans, though well received at the time, did not take off. The demand to set up a museum at the location resurfaces every now and then.
The railways also mooted several plans for the space. Officials suggested that the station could be renovated to reduce the load on the Ernakulam Junction railway station. The old station held the potential to be developed as a hub for different modes of transport. It was also suggested that MEMU trains to Thrissur could be redirected here once the station was revived.
The railway lines to the station that are still intact and the dilapidated buildings have seen no changes despite the many plans being made for their revival. Officials said a paucity of funds was the reason for delay in developing the station. There are also concerns that the real estate lobby will be keen to get their hands on the railway property situated in the heart of the city. The ghost station, meanwhile, sees only development proposals and no action.