Several forums campaigning for bringing Wayanad onto the rail map have raised allegations against inter-State private luxury bus operators for trying to torpedo the Nilambur-Nanjangud rail project.
One of the reasons is the inept attitude of Transport Department officials in dealing with the issue, Nilgiri-Wayanad National Highway and Railway Action Committee convener T.M. Rasheed said.
The delay in executing the rail project has in fact affected 10 lakh Malayalis residing in Bengaluru. “The proposal to introduce new trains to Bengaluru via Salem-Coimbatore is not feasible as running more trains in the sector would chock the railway lines,” he said.
He said bus operators were starting hundreds of buses in the Bengaluru-Kerala sector citing the logic of railways that a gap of 10 minutes was required for two trains to run on the same track. Further, new freight trains cannot be started as the frequency of passenger trains is quite high on the Coimbatore-Salem route, he said.
However, the Nilambur-Nanjangud rail project, if implemented, would help commuters reach Bengaluru from Kochi in six hours. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan has already given a favourable report to the State government to go ahead with the project to construct a 156-km track linking Wayanad. If the route is changed via Kalpetta, the total distance would be 180 km, Mr. Rasheed said.
New rail line
Suggestions have also come up for a new rail line connecting Nilambur and Kozhikode for the benefit of rail passengers in Malabar. Thus the Nilambur-Nanjangud rail line connecting to Kozhikode city would not only reduce the travel time but also bring down the ticket fare.
Mr. Rasheed said the speed of the train could be drastically improved up to 100 km per hour on the Mysuru- Nilambur rail route. A feasible report pointing out all these aspects had been submitted to the railways in 2016.
Subsequently, he said, the Ministry of Railways considered the project. The State government had then asked the DMRC to prepare a detailed project report for the purpose.
However, Mr. Rasheed alleged that the present State government was ignoring the needs of Wayanad, Malappuram and Kozhikode, and it only pushed for the Thalassery-Mysuru rail line project.
With the Nilambur-Nanjangud project hanging fire, private bus operators are having a field day by introducing more service from Kerala to Bengaluru, he said.