Rly Board scuttling Konkan Rly plans ?

| 28 January 1998 23:15 IST

All is still not well on the prestigious Konkan railway route, though India's longest route of 760 kms is finally opened, connecting Delhi to Kerala along the western coast.

The pain in the neck is reportedly the railway board, quite a few officials of which are scuttling all the plans of the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd.

Most of its proposals to divert the traffic are still awaiting clearance. "It's not possible before the new government takes over", says a senior KRCL official, while also wondering who the new railway minister would be.

More than the passenger traffic, the officials seem to be worried about the cargo, handling of which would accrue estimated daily income of around Rs two crore. The passenger revenue would be hardly Rs 35 lakh.

Couple of passenger trains have already started running upto Goa from Mumbai, after the corridor was opened on the Republic Day. The plan is to run six pairs of inter-state passenger trains, including four ones proposed to be diverted.

The local trains are already running in the respective states, including a rail car, partly owned by Goa government, running from Karwar in Karnataka to Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.

But the KRCL authorities have announced commissioning of only Rajdhani and Shatabdi express trains from Mumbai to Madgao from 1st April. Schedules of Kurla-Kochi Netravathi express, Delhi-Trivendrum Rajdhani express, Rajkot-Kochi express and Delhi-Mangalore Mangla express are yet to be finalised.

Similar is the fate of goods trains which the KRCL has proposed for diversions, especially those shortening North-South route. The northwards cargo still comes to Kerala via Delhi, Nagpur, Vijaywada and Madras while the Mumbai cargo comes via Guntkal and Bangalore.

The diversion would also save time and distance, says B Rajaram, the KRCL's acting CMD. He is targeting for foodgrains from Punjab, coal and steel from Bihar, fertilisers from UP, oil from Mumbai and cement from Wadi in Maharashtra.

But it all depends on the railway board's approval for diversions, discloses one KRCL official, taking advantage of the existing political situation to delay the whole procedure.

Meanwhile, Rajaram has shown his preparedness to commission a parallel line in next three years, if the route starts receiving positive response. But KRCL officials feel otherwise, since no new plans would be possible until the corporation pays off the loans in next ten years.

Though the Konkan railway route is expected to be lucrative, major chunk of it would go into paying the annual interest of Rs 200 crore on the loans amounting to Rs 2400 crore, besides 25 per cent working expenses.

The delay in fully commissioning the railway has cost the corporation Rs 70 lakh only towards daily interest, while its original estimates of Rs 1800 crore has shot upto Rs 3350 crore in last seven years.

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