Nemom coaching terminal in limbo

Lack of funds and land acquisition problems have stalled the project

The delay on the part of the Railway Board to give approval to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and failure to earmark capital in the Union Budget has resulted in Nemom coaching terminal being confined to paper.

The railway authorities are groping in the dark on the way forward for the project as only ₹50 lakh was made available from the Safety Fund in the last Budget.

But, the votaries for developing Nagercoil as a terminal are putting pressure on the Centre and the Railways for Nagercoil citing the advantages like easy availability of land and more development to the southern peninsula.

“Land is available for Nagercoil terminal and acquisition is not burdensome as in Kerala. Funds is not an issue in view of the ongoing doubling of Vanchi Maniyachchi-Tirunelveli-Nagercoil stretch. Unless the State exerts pressure, Nemom will meet the same fate of the Rail Coach Factory at Kanjikode,” Railway officials say.

The DPR for the ₹116.57 crore Phase I of the Nemom coaching terminal has been lying in the Railway Board since November 2, 2019. The foundation stone was laid by Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal through video conferencing from Delhi on March 7, 2019 when the file was still pending with the Finance wing of the Southern Railways, Chennai.

The construction wing of the railways commenced the ₹15-crore preliminary works on Phase I hoping to get the approval from the Board and adequate funds. But works for two platforms, each 600-m-long, and railway tracks, each 750-m-long, to divert the existing tracks has now come to a standstill due to lack of land.

For the preliminary works, land has to be acquired for two ROBs and for reconstruction of an aquaduct. The development of Nemom yard also needs further land.

Land to the extent of 14.80 hectares is needed for doubling the seven km from Thiruvananthapuram Central to Nemom. The proposed coaching terminal, aimed at decongesting Thiruvananthapuram Central and bringing more trains needs 5.28 hectares of land.

The State government has sought ₹207 crore from the Railways for the cost of acquiring 14.80 hectares for doubling and the terminal. Lack of capital is preventing the Railways from moving ahead, railway officials say.

Minister for Public Works and Railway G. Sudhakaran and the General Manager, Southern Railway, in separate letters to Mr. Goyal and the Railway Board respectively have sought funds for the terminal. But, it had not evoked any response.

Four stabling lines, a pit line, two additional platform lines, and a shunting neck will come up in Phase I and a complete coaching terminal with power car shed, four pit lines, and sick lines in Phase II.

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