John L. Paul
To operate from Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts
KOCHI: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has suggested 38 pairs of commuter trains daily to connect Ernakulam and Kozhikode with other districts.
While 16 pairs of trains have been recommended in the Kozhikode sector, 22 pairs would provide enhanced rail connectivity between Ernakulam and nearby districts.
Apart from speedy travel and comforts, socio-economic benefits like decongested roads are also being cited by the DMRC.
Highly placed sources in the DMRC said Ernakulam and Kottayam would need eight pairs of commuter trains as an estimated 10,000 people commute each day between the two places in trains. Four pairs of trains have been recommended between Ernakulam and Alappuzha, where the number of passengers touches 13,000. Ten pairs of trains have been suggested between Ernakulam and Thrissur, a corridor used daily by over 15,000 people.
The corporation has proposed six pairs of trains in the busy Kozhikode-Kannur sector, to meet the requirements of an estimated 16,000 passengers each day. The route is currently facing a severe shortage of passenger trains, DMRC sources said.
Once commuter trains are introduced, the Railways would be able to withdraw the existing passenger trains and use the coaches in other sectors.
Special Purpose Vehicle
Sources in the DMRC said the project can be completed in two years. “The Railways and the State government can jointly constitute a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for manufacturing commuter-train coaches. The SPV can raise funds from the market to finance the project. On its part, the Railways would have to open more ticket counters and parking lots in stations,” a DMRC source said.
The introduction of commuter trains would not affect the schedule of existing long-distance trains. The 38 commuter trains will benefit over two lakh passengers on a daily basis. Each train would have eight coaches. Each coach will have 100 seats.
The Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMUs) mooted for the State would be able to operate even in stations where the platforms are low.
The suburban network warrants track doubling in the Ernakulam-Kottayam sector. Automatic signal systems in the Ernakulam-Shornur corridor and the electrification of the Shornur-Kannur sector are the other needs.
“Automatic signalling will enable smooth flow of traffic as the role of stations in the process will come down. Though season tickets would be allowed, a nominal commuter surcharge would be collected from passengers,” the DMRC official said.
Such a commuter-rail system would also be suited in the Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam-Nagercoil sector.
“Trains are five times more energy efficient than buses and the pollution caused is five times less. Trains are faster and much more comfortable,” said a senior officer of the corporation.
The fare charged is less than half of what is charged for road travel. Commuter trains used in the suburban network accelerate and stop much faster than ordinary trains, thus reducing the commuting time, he said.
Commuter-train service will enable people living in the suburbs of Kochi and Kozhikode to reach the cities easily.
It will also provide relief to city authorities if people start settling down in the suburbs that are connected by commuter trains.