Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi's announcement that a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be appointed as nodal officer to liaison between the Centre and the State for rail development has vindicated a longstanding proposal for setting up a railway administrative office in the State for undertaking rail development activities under the Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad divisions.

Railway officials here said the appointment of the CAO would accelerate the ongoing works and provide momentum to various development works in the pipeline under the two divisions.

A range of development activities in the two divisions, including construction of rail over-bridges (ROB) and track doubling, will get an impetus by the establishment of the office of the CAO in the State, they said exuding the hope that the CAO office was the first step towards establishment of a railway zone for the State.

At present, the development works of the Southern Railway are being undertaken by the CAO (Construction) in Chennai Egmore.

The major rail developmental works in the State, including completion of track doubling, construction of ROBs and bridges, new railway station buildings, and passenger amenities are expected to be fast-tracked by the appointment of the CAO.

The development activities include the doubling works between Ernakulam and Kayamkulam via Alappuzha and Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari; Kollam-Chengottai gauge conversion works; and the proposed rail component factory at Cherthala.

The proposals of new rail lines including Thalassery-Mysore, Guruvayur-Tanur, Nilambur-Nanjangode, and Kanhangad-Panathur are also expected to gain momentum once the CAO office is established in the state, the railway officials said.

Citing the precedent of establishing a separate CAO (Construction) office in Bangalore years before the South Western Railway headquartered in Hubli in Karnataka was formed in 2003, they said that the CAO office in the State would help the authorities to prioritise projects and speed up the works.

The CAO office would also ensure proper utilisation of project funds and surplus funds from different works, they added.

The CAO would also set the stage for the State government's coordination in the rail development activities, they said.

The CAO being principal head of the department, he or she is working with the support of chief engineers, planning engineers, survey engineers, ROB engineers, signal engineers, accounts officers, stores officers, and transportation officers, and these officers are supported by deputy chief engineers, executive engineers, and subordinate officers.

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