The failure to announce the merger of Mangalore region with Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) in the interim Railway budget has come as a disappointment for the people here.
It was hoped that such a merger would have taken the region closer to getting its own railway division under KRCL and better facilities.
While no new projects were announced for the region, officials and politicians are clueless whether the proposed Thiruvananathapuram-Nizamuddin Express (bi-weekly to alternately run via Kottayam and Allapuzha) will take the Konkan route or run via Renigunta, Bhopal and Agra.
The expectations were high as the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes and Udupi-Chikmagalur MP K. Jayaprakash Hegde had written letters to Mr. Kharge seeking region’s merger with KRCL. That this is a pre-poll budget had raised hopes further.
This had been discussed in the railway users’ consultative committee of KRCL, according to its member G.G. Mohandas Prabhu, who represents Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). Though a lot of efforts were made, “nothing fructified”, he said.
Mr. Prabhu said at least a late night fast train could have been announced from Mangalore to Bangalore so that people could reach the State capital in 7 hours.
There were demands for trains to Hubli and Vasco da Gama also.Division for Gulbarga
A Railway source pointed out that the Railway Minister could not muster enough political support to announce a division for his own home district – Gulbarga — which has been a long pending demand.
“We got nothing,” said Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel. Many of the announcements could not be fulfilled as the government had little time before the general election, he said.
The railway sources said the Palakkad division could have been given a few multiple electric units (MEMU or 8-coach energy efficient electricity run trains) so that the continuous section from Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore – without urban-rural divide – is well connected. “A person from Calicut (Kozhikode) who wants to do business in Mangalore can use such service, for example,” said a source in the Railways. The source said this was important as the entire section is likely to be electrified by 2015. The infrastructure should be ready by the time electrification was done.
Also speeding up of trains in the division should have been taken up, so that the existing capacity was used better.