S. Anil Radhakrishnan
Rs.5 lakh for `stabling line facilities'
Separate platforms to be set up for MEMU servicesMEMU trains can carry 3,000 passengers at a time
Thiruvananthapuram: The Railways have cleared Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU)-type suburban trains in the State in principle. A sum of Rs .5 lakh has been earmarked in the Railway Budget for setting up `inspection and stabling line facilities for MEMU in Kollam.'
The decision has come as a surprise to the Southern Railway authorities as it did not find mention in the budget speech of Union Minister for Railways Lalu Prasad. The MPs from the State were also not aware of the major project aimed at providing relief to the commuters of the State.
A top railway official confirmed to The Hindu that the amount has been sanctioned for 2007-08. This has found mention in the Pink Book and in the explanatory memorandum on the Railway Budget 2007-2008.
"This is a prelude to suburban services in the State and we have been lobbying for MEMU services. The divisional authorities will soon work out a plan to create the facilities for starting MEMU services," he said.
The MEMU-type suburban trains of nine cars would be able to carry 3000 passengers at a time.
Although the MEMU would resemble suburban trains, the coaches would be that used for passenger and express trains.
The seating would be as in suburban trains plying in the metros.
A sum of Rs.30-40 crore is needed to set up an MEMU maintenance shed and terminal for commencing operations. Kollam has been selected as it is the `mid-point' between the 155-km Nagercoil-Kollam stretch and 155-km section to Ernakulam.
Though the Railways can operate the MEMU with the existing platforms, the plan is to set up separate platforms. "We hope the funds would be sanctioned on a continuous basis.
The rakes have to be allocated by the Railway Board," the official added.
The MEMU can run 200 km at a stretch and the Railways can introduce them in the busy Thiruvananthapuram-Ernakulam section. The Railways can extend the suburban services to Nagercoil once the Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari section is electrified.
The stabling line and other facilities are being planned on the land owned by the Railways near the S.N. College, Kollam.
Already, MEMUs are plying in the Palakkad-Erode section using one rake. As there is no maintenance facility in Palakkad, the rake is taken to Avadi for periodic maintenance.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, that carried out a feasibility study on the need for rail-based Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) for the State capital, had suggested introduction of suburban services at a cost of Rs.176 crore.
It had suggested introduction of MEMU in the 82-km Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram-Neyyattinkara stretch on the existing network.
The suburban traffic is expected to increase by about three to four times by 2010.