Though Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s announcement of two new trains and other steps for the State railway network has come as a face-saving measure for the Oommen Chandy-led United Democratic Front government, there is considered opinion in Kerala that the Railways have failed to address the grievances of the State in railway development.
The State’s premier demand for a peninsular zone still remains a distant dream. An assurance in this regard, it is pointed out, had been given to the State when the Salem Railway Division was carved out of the Palakkad Railway Division sometime back. Disproportionate allocations for ongoing projects, especially doubling work, lack of measures for kicking off the wagon component factory at Cherthala and the railway medical college and bottling plant in the capital have substantiated the feeling that the State has been sidelined.
Railway officials were hoping that the State would be given some promises. The State government was also expecting major announcements as the elections to the Lok Sabha are just a year away. But, interventions at the highest level and the presence of as many as seven Ministers from the State in the Union Council of Ministers have not worked in Kerala’s favour. The Railways have not even bothered to enhance the line and terminal capacity at the Kochuveli and Nemom railway stations that would have helped to streamline the train services to the capital.