‘Track doubling between Castle Rock and Vasco-da-gama in public interest’

Additional General Manager, South Western Railway, P K. Mishra speaking at an online press conference.

Additional General Manager, South Western Railway, P K. Mishra speaking at an online press conference.

Senior Railway officers asserted in Hubballi on Wednesday that the doubling of the Castle Rock and Vasco-da-gama railway track between Karnataka and Goa was in public interest.

Additional General Manager of South Western Railway P K. Mishra, Chief Project Manager of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited P.K. Kshatriya, Additional Divisional Railway Manager of Hubballi Division S.K. Jha and Deputy General Manager E. Vijaya held an online press conference and gave details of the project. They said that it will help improve connectivity and also benefit Goa.

Mr. Mishra clarified that no new area is being taken for laying the railway line and it would not have any additional impact on environment. Indian Institute of Science had conducted the Environment Impact Assessment Study, he added.

Maximum care will be taken during the construction of line to protect the environment, just like similar infrastructure development projects are being executed all over the country, including in the ecologically sensitive North Eastern region.

“Requirement of tree cutting is very less and would be reduced further. The Railways is committed to the development of Goa in an environment-friendly way,” he said.

According to him, the quantum of coal being transported was continuously declining and non-conventional energy sources would be the future. Electrification will make trains carbon neutral, he said.

Foot survey will be done for finalising alignment of the line. The existing single line railway track between Castle Rock to Vasco-da-gama in Goa was laid more than a century ago.

The Ministry of Railways had sanctioned the project to double the track between Hosapete (Karnataka) and Vasco-da-gama (Goa) (342 km) in 2010-11 at a cost of ₹ 2,127 crore.

The project has since been nearly completed in Karnataka except a 10 km stretch between Unkal and Hubballi, which is targeted for commissioning by March 2021. A seven-kilometre track between Madgoan-Majorda in Goa has also been doubled.

Tender for works on the remaining stretch of about 90 km in Goa was awarded for doubling. They would be taken up after ensuring necessary clearances.

Doubling of the section will be a game changer for Goa, as it will give impetus to trade and enable easier and faster passenger movement. The existing rail network is constrained due to the single-line long-ghat section severely limiting train running capacity. While average section running time in the plain section is 8 to 10 minutes, it takes 70-80 minutes to pass the critical ghat section reducing sectional capacity to 15 % of sections in plains.

Moreover, the ghat section is extremely landslip-prone and being single line, the State remains frequently cut-off during the rainy season.

The double line all-weather rail track was thus necessary.

It would have the following advantages: more number of passenger trains, better intra-State connectivity, boost to trade and commerce among adjoining States, increased tourist inflow, augmenting infrastructure at intermediate stations, relaxing bottlenecks of ghat section operation, improving passenger amenities at stations, re-modelling yards to handle 24 coaches, construction of five road overbridges and three road underbridges for enabling road traffic.

To a question on quantity of coal that will be transported, Mr. Mishra said that the emphasis was on for usage of environment-friendly sources of energy for power generation.

The use of coal is gradually reducing and share of non-conventional energy sources is gradually increasing . In 2015-16, South Western Railway carried 12 million tonnes of coal which has reduced to nine million tonnes in 2019-20 showing a reduction of 25 % in four years.

Doubling was being done pre-dominantly in railway land and there was no additional impact on environment. Care will be taken to ensure the least disturbance during construction and alignment will be decided to avoid felling trees to the extent possible. Alignment is being planned in such a way that not even a single building will be affected fully for the doubling project. Only compound walls in around a dozen houses in a stretch may be affected and the Railways was trying to avoid even that, he said.

Ms. Vijaya said that all stakeholders will be taken into confidence and genuine concerns of the public will be addressed. The execution of work will be done only by coordinating with State officials and by obtaining necessary approvals and clearances from the district administration and the government of Goa.

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 4:52:40 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/track-doubling-between-castle-rock-and-vasco-da-gama-in-public-interest/article33087070.ece