The South Central Railway (SCR) this year would focus on removing manned railway level crossings and modernise the junction to stabilise yards, apart from taking up infrastructure capacity development like doubling and tripling of railway lines and electrification.
“Safety and capacity augmentation will continue to be our objective. Last year, we removed 152 unmanned level crossings keeping the zone free of them. This year, we will double up our efforts to remove several manned level crossings too,” said General Manager Gajanan Mallya.
In an exclusive interaction with The Hindu , Mr. Mallya, who incidentally began his career in the SCR at Ramagundam in 1984, is well aware of the systems here and hence, is aware of the changes that needs to be brought about to make trains safer and faster, even while improving passenger amenities.
There are 1,514 manned crossings across the six divisions, of which 30 have been removed in the last few months and the number would go up this year. “The construction of foot-over bridges will be taken up extensively, with a provision to build additional ones, apart from building more escalators and lifts at the main stations,” he said.
The GM is clear that the average train speed needs to be improved gradually from the current 45 kmph to 110 kmph and for this, they not only need new lines, but should ensure quality work towards maintaining concrete sleepers and ballast (rock material), and tackling temporary speed restrictions.
Admitting that the punctuality has been hit in the recent times leading to delays in arrivals and departures of trains, he attributed it to the increased freight movement and rail work towards the last quarter of the financial year and assured that the train timings would be improved from 80-85% to 90%.
With the main lines saturated between 130% -150%, it has become vital to strengthen the infrastructure capacity. Last year, the SCR was able to take up 146 km of new lines, including 87 km between Obulavaripalle and Venkatachalam, 50 km of doubling between Mudkhed and Mugat and Maltekdi-Nanded-Limbgaon, and nine km between Mancheriyal and Peddampet third line project.
“We have done 430 km of electrification too last year, which is among the better performances in the entire railway network. We have plans for 600 km, but there is a shortfall in our vendor capacity to take up the work we have tendered and complete it on time. There are also land acquisition issues to be tackled,” he said.
This year, the ambitious target is 353 km of new lines — 32 km of Manoharabad-Gajwel, 17.20 km of Akanapet-Medak, 66.4 km of Kazipet-Balarshah, 72.54 km of Kallur-Guntakal doubling, 33.31 km of Gooty-Dharmavaram doubling, 43.20 km of Akola-Khandwa gauge conversion, 25 km of Mandavalli- Kaikaluru-Pallevada- Akiveedu and 24.38 km of Guntur-Tenali doubling line.