With Rs. 300 crore in its kitty, the construction wing of the Railway intends to double Piravom-Kurupunthara and Chengannur-Changanaserry rail tracks this fiscal.

The Rs. 117 crore allotted in the 2013-14 Budget had fallen short of approximately Rs. 400 crore required each year for doubling track through Kottayam and Alappuzha districts, critical to double the Ernakulam-Kayamkulam track.

“We had sought Rs. 500 crore this fiscal to complete a major portion of doubling through Kottayam. However, we hope to make much headway using the Rs. 300 crore allotted this year,” said Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) of Southern Railway Dani Thomas. Of the Rs. 300 crore, Rs. 212 crore will be spent for acquiring land and the rest for track laying and related works.

Doubling Chingavanom-Kurupunthara track might take more time to materialise because of delay in land acquisition and laying track through Kottayam tunnel.

The State government has handed over to the Railway only 10 hectares of the 40 hectares of land needed for doubling track through Kottayam. The government’s delay in framing rules based on the Centre’s new Land Acquisition Act has further complicated matters.

Referring to problems in sourcing mud that held up doubling works in 2012 and 2013, Mr. Thomas said it had largely been sorted out. However, sourcing mud for doubling track in Alappuzha is encountering problems at present.

Delays

The Railway has been facing flak for not commissioning the 11.50-km-long Mulanthuruthy-Piravom double track, where land was made available many years ago. The most recent deadline for doubling expired in January. “Track laying and associated works are over but electrification work has not been completed. The Commissioner for Railway Safety (CRS) will inspect the track only after it is electrified. This work will hopefully be over by August,” Mr. Thomas said.

The State government has not handed over even a cent of land for doubling track through Alappuzha. The Railway had cited the need for acquiring 20 hectares to commence doubling the Ambalapuzha-Haripad track. The agency had invited tenders for the work. Next in line would be doubling the Ernakulam-Thuravur section.

Though the Railway Board was keen on the State government sharing half the project cost of track doubling through Alappuzha, the latter was unwilling to do so, sources said.

President of All Kerala Railway Users’ Association Paul Manvettom condemned the Railway’s inordinate delay in doubling track and in commissioning the Piravom track. “The State will get more trains only if we have double tracks. Many office-goers are shunning short-distance trains because of delay caused in single track sections.”

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