The ‘lifeline’ of Malabar is on the threshold of completing 125 years. The Kozhikode railway station, which links the city to every nook and cranny of the country through the railway network, is now set to be upgraded as a world-class facility.
The Kozhikode railway station caters to an average 30,220 commuters daily and earnings on an average comes to Rs.12.78 lakh, says Additional Divisional Railway Manger, Palakkad, Mohan A. Menon.
Union Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Banswal along with K.J. Surya Prakash Reddy, Union Minister of State for Railways, is flying down to Kozhikode on Wednesday to attend a function being organised at the station to mark its 125th anniversary. As it strides past a historic milestone on January 2, the Kozhikode railway station is gearing up to emerge as an integrated complex for rail and the Light Mass Rapid Transit System with the introduction of the state-of-the-art monorail along the 14.2-km stretch from Medical College to Meenchanda.
The history of Railways in Kerala dates back to March 12, 1861, when the 19 mile-long (30.5 km) Beypore-Tirur railway line was commissioned by the South-West line of the Madras Railway Company. Edward Davidson’s narrative historical treatise The Railways of India published in 1868 goes into the details of the railway project that extended to 406 miles from Madras to Beypore and spanned 17 districts.
The 14.5-km Tirur-Kuttipuram section followed on May 1, 1861; the 37-km Kuttipuram-Pattambi stretch on September 23, 1862; and the 105-km Pattambi-Podanur stretch on April 14, 1862.
The locomotive and the coaches for operating the trains from Beypore arrived by sea at the Beypore port. At present, Beypore does not figure on the railway map. There was a widespread feeling that Railways had made a mistake stopping at Beypore, then an insignificant hamlet, and the line should have been brought to the district headquarters at Calicut (now Kozhikode), barely 11 km from the terminus.
William Logan’s famed Malabar Manual recaptures the spirit behind the commissioning of the Beypore-Calicut railway line and the Calicut railway station on January 2, 1888.
The “Administration report” of Madras Railway Company of 1888 has also documents that the lines were open for traffic, including the extension to Calicut, by nine miles. “The erstwhile Beypore station, together with 1.5 miles of that line from the Kadalundi bridge, has been abandoned, and three new stations were opened on this extension, viz Kadalundi, Feroke, and Kallayi, going up to Calicut,” it says.
Bridging the Kadalundi river was indeed a troublesome task those days, for it was 2,370 feet in width, with a bottom of mud to a great depth. Kadalundi bridge was 840-ft long, with twelve 70- ft girders on piers of cast-iron cylinders of 6 ft diameter, having 12 spans each of 64 ft, as per Logan’s manual.
The expenditure incurred for this principal work from Beypore to Calicut those days was a princely sum of Rs.7, 86,709. The construction of the Calicut railway station cost Rs.12, 53,802. Of the total amount, Rs.1,35,000 was donated by Malabar Local Fund Board and Kozhikode Municipal Commissioner.
The remnant portions removed from the condemned Beypore railway station were brought to Kozhikode and used in constructing an engine shed. The construction of bridges at Feroke and Kallayi were completed after the Calicut railway station was thrown open.
The Kozhikode railway station, about to complete 125 years of age, is all set to be upgraded as a world-class facility.