Although gauge conversion is over, safety clearance is yet to be given
Centre has promised the line will be ready before the Mahamastakabhisheka The project was sanctioned in 1994-95 at an estimated cost of Rs. 300.73 crores A goods train has completed a trial run on a 57-km section A consignment of iron ore was taken on the line to Mangalore port
HASSAN: Although Union Minister for State for Railways R. Velu promised to ensure the completion of the much-delayed Hassan-Mangalore railway line before the commencement of the Mahamastakabhisheka at
Shravanabelagola from February 8 to 19, the introduction of the first passenger service is likely to be delayed, according to sources in the South Western Railway.
However, Manoj Kumar, Chief Administrative Officer, South Western Railway, Bangalore, told The Hindu on Friday that gauge conversion of the Hassan-Mangalore railway line is complete and Commissioner of Railway Safety P.K. Sen has been informed. But the first passenger train will be flagged off only after the line is inspected and the go-ahead for commencing services is given, he added.
A few days ago, railway authorities conducted a trial run on the section of the new broad-gauge line between Sakleshpur and Subrahmanya Road in the presence of South Western Railway General Manager Trilok Parthy. A goods train covered 57 km, according to sources. Later, a goods train carrying iron ore from the Bellary-Hospet region reached the New Mangalore Port on the new line. It was the first goods train to reach Mangalore from the region after the dismantling of the metre-gauge line from Hassan in 1997.
Sources said the deadline for the completion of gauge conversion between Sakleshpur and Subrahmanya Road is March this year. Although South Western Railway made efforts to complete the work by December, landslips in the Shiradi Ghat section of the Western Ghats and heavy rain disrupted work for two months. "On getting clearance from the Commissioner of Railway Safety, train services on the Mangalore-Hassan-Arsikere-Bangalore and Mangalore-Hassan-Mysore-Bangalore routes will commence," a senior railway official said.
The metre-gauge line to connect the coastal region to the State capital was conceived in 1950 and work began in 1960. A railway line was commissioned in 1978, and passenger and goods trains plied on the route till 1997.
Formation of K-RIDE
The Railway Board sanctioned the 236-km Arsikere-Hassan-Mangalore gauge conversion project in 1994-95 at an estimated cost of Rs. 300.73 crores. When the project was delayed because of funds crunch, the State Government formed the Karnataka Railway Infrastructure Development Enterprise.
Completion of the project will give a fillip to economic development of the region. Mangalore port will have a rail link to Chennai port, which will help entrepreneurs who set up units in the Special Economic Zone coming up in Hassan. Travellers in the region will also benefit.