Kerala hopes that the railway budget to be presented in the Parliament on Thursday, by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu may have allotments for the doubling of the tracks through Kottayam and the gauge change in the Punaloor-Chenkkotta route.
Officials have confirmed that the policy to give priority to complete projects that are going slow will help these projects. Authorities are not also ruling out the possibility of the allotment of at least two new trains schedules like Indore-Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad-Thiruvananthapuram and Trichi-Guruvayur. These are demanded by railway divisions outside Kerala.
While a new train from Indore to Kerala via Konkan was proposed by the Western Railway, the Trichi- Guruvayur Intercity route by merging Guruvayur-Thiruvananthapuram Intercity and Thirunalveli-Trichi Intercity was proposed by Southern Railway.
The board also has to consider the recommendations submitted by the Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division. The main among them are daily services of Rajadhani, Ernakulam-Selem Intercity, Thriuvananthapuram-Chennai weekend service, Thiruvananthapuram-Bangalore service, Thiruvananthapuram-Guwahati daily service and the extension of Ernakulam-Kottayam Passenger train to Kayamkulam.
The indications are that even if Rajadhani will not be become a daily service, it is likely to have four trips a week. Although Ernakulam-Kottayam train is likely to be extended to Kayamkulam, it remains to be seen how many of the other proposals will get a green signal in the Budget which will be presented.
If indications are true, the Nilambur-Nanchangud project, for which the government was ready to invest money, too is likely to find a place in the budget. Although all the Railway zones and divisions present their proposals before the ministry, the political pressure from each state also play a part in the allotment of trains.
Tamil Nadu had taken this route to get their projects sanctioned in the previous years. Tamil Nadu was able to get trains routes sanctioned even before the tracks were ready, thanks to the presence of former Union Minister T.R. Balu in the Railway Parliamentary Committee. The peoples representatives from Kerala have not been succeeding in putting the the ministry under pressure to sanction trains for the state.
Kodikkunnil Suresh, MP, has been strongly putting his weight behind a new train from Kottayam to Velankkanni. Although he had held talks with Railway Board members twice, it is not known whether the train will be sanctioned. The officials have taken the stand the new train is not practical because of the heavy traffic in the proposed route.
But the authorities also say that the train can be sanctioned once the Palakkad-Pollachi route is opened for traffic by the end of March. If the proposed train starts its journey from Punalur travels via Kottayam, Palakkad, Palani, Dindigal and Trichi, the pilgrims to Trichi can also take advantage of the new route. At the moment, there aren’t any trains to Palani.
Under pressure from Kerala Samajam, Puducheri, the MP from the constituency R.R. Radhakrishnan is also trying to get a Puducheri-Thiruvananthapuram (via Kottayam) train. The demand is to start the new train by using the rake of Kanyakumari-Puthucheri weekly train, which doesn’t have any traffic for five days a week. The only existing service to Kerala from Pondichery is Pondychery-Palakkad-Mangalapuram train.