Not withstanding the proposed Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalore high-speed rail corridor (HSRC) where trains are expected to run at 300 km per hour (kmph) speed, the Railways are gearing up to run trains at over 110 kmph speed in the Thiruvananthapuram division which has a 320-km-long rail route.

Thiruvanathapuram Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Rajesh Agarwal said the division was chalking out plans to increase the average speed of trains so that they could attain speeds of up to 200 kmph within a few years. “The present speed in Kerala is in the range of 50 to 100 kmph and this must change. An action plan has been chalked out to remedy matters and bottlenecks are being overcome. Last year, 84 trains saw a fall in travel time by 10 to 90 minutes in the division, despite the introduction of 11 new trains. Another 100 trains will be considerably speeded up likewise, this year.”

Their speed could be further increased if the State government took a call on reducing the number of stops for long-distance trains, Mr Agarwal said. He called upon stakeholders to stop blaming the Southern Railway head office in Chennai and the Delhi headquarters for the slow pace of railway development in Kerala. “Phenomenal improvements can be made if work within the division is organised in a better manner,” he said.

To a question on the feasibility of the Rs.1.20-lakh crore HSRC, he said the Railways are not associated with the work. “It is an alternative mode of transport that is expected to take a few years to be commissioned. It needs passenger patronage in millions such as in France and Japan to become remunerative,” he said.

Increase line capacity

Mr. Agarwal said the speed of trains, including the Rajadhani Express, considerably decreased as they entered Kerala. Each stop for express trains should be at least 60 km apart. The resultant increase in speed of trains would increase the capacity of railway lines to accommodate more trains, he said.