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Land acquisition vital for rail development, says Ahamed

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Maiden trip:Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed flagging off the first train on the Kollam-Punlaur broad gauge line at Kollam on Wednesday. –
Maiden trip:Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed flagging off the first train on the Kollam-Punlaur broad gauge line at Kollam on Wednesday. –

Staff Reporter

Kollam-Punalur broad gauge line inaugurated

KOLLAM: Trouble-free land acquisition is vital to the completion of track-doubling works in the State, Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed has said.

He was inaugurating the gauge-converted Kollam-Punalur section at a function at the Kollam railway station here on Wednesday.

New trains can be introduced only if there are adequate tracks. But Railways is facing several hurdles in this connection in the State. A meeting with the Chief Minister is scheduled shortly to discuss the issue, Mr. Ahamed said.

The works scheduled to be completed by this year include the Ernakulam-Tripunithura-Mulanthuruthi section, the Mavelikara-Kottayam section and the Chepad-Kayamkulam section. The Minister sought the cooperation of all stakeholders for the timely completion of these works.

The Railway needed Rs.1 lakh crore to complete various development works. Only Rs.11,000 crore was available for use at present. Socially desirable projects are being given priority, he said. The Railways is seen as a soft target by demonstrators. Destruction of railway property during demonstrations should come to an end, he said.

He said the Kollam-Punalur section formed part of a third alternative line from Kerala to Chennai.

The 45-km section was gauge converted at a cost of Rs.150 crore. The gauge conversion work on the 50-km Punalur-Shencotta section will be completed by December 2012. Four pairs of trains will run on the Kollam-Punaur section.

Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit services from Kollam will start operations by the end of the year, Mr. Ahamed said. The Minister said a halt at Kollam for Rajdhani Express was a difficult proposition as it required high-level technical clearance.

Minister for Law M. Vijayakumar presided over the function. Labour Minister P.K. Gurudasan, Education Minister M.A. Baby, N. Peethambara Kurup, Kodikunnil Suresh, K.N. Balagopal, MLAs, and K.B. Ganesh Kumar, MLA, spoke. Southern Railway General Manager Deepak Krishnan welcomed the gathering.

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