Sharma to leave Thiruvananthapuram for Mumbai

Completion of doubling of the Ernakulam-Kayamkulam stretch via Kottayam and Alappuzha, laying a third railway line between Ernakulam and Shoranur, and development of Kochuveli terminal will trigger railway development in the State, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Rajiv Dutt Sharma has said.

Mr. Sharma, who is stepping down as DRM of Thiruvananthapuram railway division following his appointment as Chief Transportation Manager, Central Railway, Mumbai VT, said the State needed commissioning of the double line through the “critical” Ernakulam-Kayamkulam stretch and development of Kochuveli to operate more trains and to meet the aspirations of the people in view of the saturation of railway network and lack of terminal facilities.

Coaching terminal

The completion of the proposed coaching terminal at Nemom near Thiruvananthapuram Central and Kottayam and doubling of the Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari stretch that had already been electrified could further accelerate development.

“If funds crunch prevents laying of a third line from Ernakulam to Shoranur, automation of signals will be enough,” he said.

The outgoing DRM said the momentum he could achieve in the doubling of the Ernakulam-Kayamkulam stretch by commissioning the Ernakulam-Mulanthurthi stretch in March 2010 after a delay of over seven years after the track was laid was a high point of the job in Kerala.

Another gratifying thing for him was that he could spent Rs.30.5 crore from 2009-10 to September this year for improving passenger amenities in the State.

Mr. Sharma said the lack of adequate funds in the railway budget this year for the State was a constraint in taking up many projects as planned by the division, especially the development works in Kochuveli.

“A Rs.10-crore allocation could have resulted in creating three additional pit lines, two more platforms and a foot overbridge. It is one of the regrets,” he said.

Mr. Sharma said the doubling of the Mavelikara-Chengannur stretch had been completed already and would be commissioned after the coming Sabarimala season. The doubling of the Kayamkulam-Haripad stretch was over and the railway was awaiting the mandatory inspection of the Chief Railway Safety Commissioner for throwing open the stretch for traffic.

During his tenure, the DRM said the International Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam was linked to the railway network of the country by providing connectivity after overcoming several odds and Thiruvananthapruam-Kanyakumari stretch could be electrified. Despite the lack of terminal facilities and saturated lines, 16 long distance trains were started.

Major challenges

He said the attack on Soumaya in a train this year and her subsequent death, landslips at Eraniel-Palliyadi-Parasala stretch and at Kottayam, and the goods train derailment at Pudukkad were his major challenges as DRM.

Mr. Sharma said the incident had resulted in the Railway Protection Force personnel manning 26 pairs of passenger trains from dawn to dusk for the first time in the country.

“We have ensured better coordination with the GRP and introduced a new helpline for the commuters,” he said.

“I came to Kerala with apprehensions, but I had a satisfying stint here. The politicians had kept me on the toes. I have never seen the MPs from any other State taking this much interest in the railway development and following it actively here and in Delhi,'' he said. He is all praise for commuters and passengers' associations who worked for railway development.

  • Says State needs commissioning of ‘critical' double line
  • ‘Lack of adequate funds a constraint for development'