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Railways to augment freight traffic in State

John L. Paul
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Kochi to be made focal point of the drive, says DRM

Rajesh Agarwal
Rajesh Agarwal

. The Railways would adopt a three-pronged approach to encourage the transportation of goods through rail, with Kochi as the focal point, the Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Rajesh Agarwal has said.

Apart from boosting trade and commerce, this would considerably decongest Kerala's roads which are now saturated with vehicles, he said, while speaking to The Hindu here recently. Expressing concern at the extremely-low rate of transporting goods through the State's rail network, he said that Thiruvananthapuram Division plans to embark on a drive to take goods movement off the roads.

Referring to the Division's plan to promote goods transport, he said that priority would be given to transport containers from the Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal in goods trains.

Secondly, impetus would be given to the movement of cargo such as coal, gypsum, cement from Harbour Terminus Station in Willingdon Island through rail. Impetus is also required to transport coir, rubber, china clay from Kerala to other States in goods trains.

For this, the focus would essentially be in the Ernakulam-Kollam route and the goods from here can be transported to places like Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Mangalore and the Konkan apart from the North and North-East, he said.

Despite being Kerala's commercial capital, Kochi is not generating adequate demand for transporting goods through rail, he said.

The Harbour Terminus station would be developed as a hub for goods trains.

Thought must be given to enhancing the transport of goods from Kerala to other States, using the existing railway lines, he said.

Passenger trains

To the question about steps being taken to speed up passenger trains, he said that commuter (short distance) and long-distance trains must be segregated.

“Now we are slowing down the movement of long-distance trains in Kerala by permitting stops at even minor stations. This should end and short-distance commuters must use mainline electrical multiple unit (MEMU) trains that would be introduced soon. The MEMUs accelerate and decelerate faster,” he said.

Referring to the delay in introducing MEMUs that would link neighbouring districts, Mr. Agarwal said that political pressure by the State can speed up the availability of coaches and also the introduction of new trains to metros such as Bangalore where there is a huge population of Keralites.

Old Railway station

Answering a question about the overwhelming demand to develop the Old Railway Station located behind the Kerala High Court as a hub for MEMUs and suburban trains and also stations in Kochi's suburbs, he said that the State Government too can pool in with funds since the Railways has already developed around 100 stations in Kerala.

Doubling of lines

On the inordinate delay in doubling rail lines, the DRM said that there are problems associated with land acquisition.

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