Traffic to go up with commissioning of Vallarpadam terminal
Associations of railway passengers and residents have come out against the slow progress in line doubling works on the Mangalore-Kanyakumari stretch, despite dozens of goods trains are set to begin service daily from the soon-to-be-commissioned Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal.
The All Kerala Railway Passengers' Association has demanded frequent train services from Kochi to Kottayam, Alappuzha and Thrissur. It has also protested against the inordinate delay in augmenting the passenger amenities at the Ernakulam Junction and Town railway stations, despite promises made in the past many railway budgets. Stations in the immediate suburbs like Tripunithura, Kalamassery, Aluva and Wellingdon Island must be developed. More trains passing through Ernakulam must be provided halts at these stations and also at Edapally, around which most of the residential areas are located. The old railway station near the High Court must be revived, the Association demanded.
“Goods trains plying from Vallarpadam would choke railway lines. Kerala needs at least three lines of rails, whereas it does not even have two lines in many parts,” said Association general secretary Mathew Paul. The Railways is also not providing sufficient number of coaches for passenger trains. Many coaches being used in the State are over two decades old and even the newer coaches are ill-maintained and dirty, he said. Passengers have for long been demanding that adequate number of personnel be posted at ticket reservation and booking counters and also at enquiry counters. The Railways has not taken over from the GCDA the five-storeyed building on the eastern entry to the Junction station. Though work is on to link the sixth platform with the main lines, it can hold only 10 coaches, instead of the 24 coaches in most express trains.
Meanwhile, the Karithala Poura Samithi has stated that the Railways has floated tenders only for projects worth less than Rs.100 crore during the past financial year, though it has allotted a total of Rs.409 crore for the State.
“The lapsed funds are being diverted to neighbouring States. There is no excuse for not acquiring land for doubling work as most of the land to be acquired is either barren or uncultivated land,” said Viju Choolakal, secretary of the association.