In his Budget speech, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday announced the Thiruvananthapuram – Chengannur suburban train service. Suburban Rail Project will be implemented with the cooperation of Kerala government and merely half of the project cost to be raised by the state government.
The speciality of the project is that it will not require land acquisition or new railway lines. Instead of track doubling, the capability of the existing track will be increased using technology. A new railway signalling system will be introduced for implementing this effectively. Through this system, the distance between trains which run on the same track and on the same direction, will be reduced to one km. As a result, more trains can be run on the same direction at small intervals.
Unlike last year when he increased freight rates, Prabhu made no changes either in passenger fares or freight rates this time.
Rail Budget and Kerala – What Kerala gets?
This time, Suresh Prabhu focused on passenger amenities, cleanliness and use of technology in railways. Instead of announcing projects to some states and avoiding other states, he tries to improve the whole rail system in India. So every state will get benefits from the proposals of this rail budget. Suresh Prabhu made a realistic approach while preparing budget. From the budget, it is evident that he tries to speed up the completion of ongoing projects across the country.
Apart from these common benefits, Kerala got some other projects too. Chegannur station to be beautified along with other pilgrim stations. The ministry has earmarked a sum of Rs 320 crore for rail line doubling works between Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari. Rs 1 crore for the development of terminal in Kochu Veli and Rs 3.5 crore for the construction of pigline in Ernakulam. Rs 101 crore has been earmarked for gauge changing of lines between Chenkotta and Punalur and Rs 100 crore for doubling works between Paravur and Alappuzha.
Kerala however need not expect more trains this time. The focus would be on completing existing works and rail doubling and the state can expect more investments in these two fronts. Kerala may also be included in tourist trains and special train networks.