S. Anil Radhakrishnan
Rs.26 crore needed for signalling work
Thiruvananthapuram: Introduction of suburban commuter rail services on the 82 km Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram-Neyyattinkara stretch on the existing railway system with modifications is expected to provide relief to daily commuters besides reducing traffic on major roads in the city.
The suburban services have been mooted at a cost of Rs.176 crore by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which carried out a feasibility study for exploring the need for Rail-based Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS).
The DMRC in its report to the State Government mooted the improvement of commuter rail services as Metro railway, MRTS and Light Capacity Metro Rail System (LRTS) would not be found feasible even in 2030.
The DMRC sources told The Hindu that Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) type suburban trains of six coaches each have been recommended for the capital city.
The MEMU can run every 30 minutes between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 5.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.
During the rest of the day, the frequency of MEMU trains would be one hour. Fifteen MEMU trains would ply the Thiruvananthapruam-Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram-Neyyattinkara stretch daily.
The 65 km Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram stretch is an electrified broad gauge double line section, while the 17 km Thiruvananthapuram-Neyyattinkara stretch is a non-electrified broad gauge singe line section.
The 17-km stretch needs to be electrified so that MEMU trains can ply. The DMRC has mooted additional measures to improve the line capacity and signalling system for introducing such trains.
Of the 21 stations on the stretch, railway stations are situated at four km between Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram. After Thiruvananthapuram, Nemom is the next station at a distance of 7.72 km. New stations have been proposed at Chakka, Karamana and S.N. College.
Parking facilities at all railway stations need to be improved and signals installed at 40 level crossings on the stretch.
Terminal facilities, including those for maintenance of additional rake of MEMU trains, would have to be developed at Neyyattinkara. Additional stabling facilities would have to be created at Kollam. Due to space constraints, MEMU trains would only have stoppage at Thiruvananthapuram.
One platform at Thiruvananthapuram Central should be earmarked for suburban trains. A separate entry/exit for suburban passengers has also been mooted.
A sum of Rs.26 crore is needed for signalling work, Rs.10 crore for electrification of Thiruvananthapuram-Neyyattinkara stretch, Rs.1 crore for setting up three stations, Rs.25 crore for terminal and maintenance facilities at Neyyattinkara, Rs.2 crore for additional stabling lines at Kollam and Rs.112 crore for MEMU type Rolling Stock (102 coaches).
The Railways would implement the project and operate MEMU trains.
The DMRC suggested that the State and the Railways fund the cost of improvement equally as done in Andhra Pradesh.
At present, there are 18,000 commuters who travel along the Kollam-Thiruvananthapuram section daily and another 8,000 along the Thiruvananthapuram-Neyyattinkara section.
The suburban traffic is expected to increase to about three to four times by 2010.