The diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU) train that will operate in the 6-km-long Ernakulam Junction-Cochin Harbour Terminus (CHT) corridor was brought here on Saturday morning.
Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram, Shirish Kumar Sinha said the DEMU would begin service in the route in August. “The date on which the service will begin, the number of daily trips and their timings will be decided shortly by Southern Railway headquarters. At present, work is under way to clear weeds at Harbour Terminus Station and to complete ballast filling on tracks. The signalling system and other infrastructure are being inspected too,” he said.
To a question on whether the three-coach train will halt at Perumanoor and at Mattancherry Halt en route CHT Station, Mr. Sinha said it could be looked into.
“We have already conducted a study on the timings, when there is demand for public transport from the city to Willingdon Island, depending on working hours of Navy personnel, those employed in Cochin Port and other establishments on the island. This has been sent to the Divisional Office,” said Hari Krishnan, Ernakulam Area Manager of Southern Railway.
Passenger train service is set to resume to the island after a gap of over two decades, bringing cheer to West Kochiites and others. Movement of freight trains to the island was affected for years after a dredger deployed by the Cochin Port rammed a pillar of Venduruthy Bridge a decade ago. Freight movement resumed after a new railway bridge was commissioned.
Demand for extension
The DEMU that arrived at Ernakulam Junction railway station on Saturday was received by representatives of the Old Railway Station Vikasana Samity. “Confining the train to the 6-km corridor corridor is gross underutilisation of the rake. The service must be extended to Thrissur or Shornur, where there is huge demand,” said Harihara Kumar, general convenor of the Samity. He called upon Southern Railway to extend service of a few trains that terminate at Ernakulam Junction to CHT, to decongest the busy station in the city.
It is learnt that a train-load of ballast has arrived at Willingdon Island to be spread along the track leading to CHT. A ballast-packing machine too has arrived.
Mr. Kumar pointed to the huge delay in renovating the Old Railway Station located behind High Court, though the project was scheduled to be taken up as a joint initiative of the State and Centre. “The Kochi Corporation has not rehabilitaed two dozen families who encroached into the premises. This has resulted in even replacement of tracks getting delayed,” he said.
“A development plan was readied a few years ago. We have written letters to the civic agency seeking speedy rehabilitation of the families, prior to commencement of track and station renovation works,” said Thiruvananthapuram DRM Mr. Sinha.
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