The Union Railway Budget presented by Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday seems to have derailed the hopes of north Kerala.
No new proposals figure in the Budget, except a passenger train from Kasaragod to Bayndur in the Udupi district and carrying out a survey for a new railway line in the Kanhangad-Panathur (Kasaragod district)-Kaniyur ( Dakshin Kannada district) route.
Commuters of north Kerala had high expectations, which included new trains, extension of existing trains to smaller towns, and, above all, establishing a pit lane at West Hill in Kozhikode or at the Kannur railway station. The absence of pit lanes in north Kerala is one of the reasons that trains do not start from or terminate in Kozhikode.
Many had expected the introduction of new trains such as the Jan Shatabdi Express, Garib Rath, and Intercity Express between Kozhikode and Bangalore. This would have benefited thousands of Information Technology professionals and students travelling between these cities. Another proposal was converting the Thiruvananthapuram-Nizamuddin Rajadhani, Kochuveli- Lokmanya Tilak Garib Rath, and Kozhikode-Thiruvananthapuram Jan Shatabdi trains into daily services. A new superfast train from Mangalore to Thiruvananthapuram and extension of the services of some trains were on the wish list of commuters.
However, several frequent travellers feel that the State government had not done its homework properly. “Where will you run new trains without railway tracks? The doubling and electrification between Mangalore and Shoranur have not been completed. The government had not been able to hand over the unused land near the West Hill station for pit lane,” said P.A. Jaiprakash, State secretariat member of the Kerala Congress (M).