The introduction of more Memu (Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit) trains being the need of the hour, the Railway Budget will need to make provision for two sheds each at Palakkad and Kollam to undertake the maintenance of train rakes.
The Palakkad division has put up a proposal at an outlay of Rs 19 crore for expanding the maintenance lines to 210 m from the present 100 m.
The proposal submitted to the Railway Board was for the extension of lines and for the provision of washing pits. “There was great difficulty in undertaking maintenance here as only four rakes could be checked and overhauled at a time,” railway sources said.
Prior to the commissioning of the Palakkad maintenance shed on January 1, 2011, the MEMU trains used to be sent to Erode weekly for maintenance.
Under the Palakkad division, there are two trains - Palakkad Town-Coimbatore service which has now been extended to Salem, and Erode to Shoranur via Palakkad and vice versa.
Apart from these two trains, the three rakes of the Thiruvananthapuram division are also being maintained here. They include the Kollam -Ernakulam via Allapuzha, Kollam-Ernakulam via Kottayam and the Kollam-Nagercoil rakes.
Railway sources said that the Memu coaches are being sourced from the Kapurthala coach factory. If the factories of BEML and the coach factory at Kanjikode was to manufacture Memu coaches in addition to aluminium coaches, the problem of non-availability of rakes could be solved to a great extent.
Interestingly, the Kollam maintenance shed for the Memu rakes, set up under the Thiruvananthapuram division, was over a year ago but was kept idle. The Kollam shed has a length of 210 m and therefore, it is easy for maintenance.
In Kollam, the Railways has deputed one supervisor, two technicians and eight helpers. Sources said that instead of commissioning the shed, there were furtive moves to deploy the helpers to other departments. The sanction by the General Manager of Southern Railway is needed to commission this completed shed.
Two more Memu trains have been sanctioned and the timings have been announced in the July 2012 timetable. They are the Thrissur -Ernakulam Memu train and the Erode -Palakkad town Memu train.
The rakes for these two new services have been stationed at Chennai and it was due to the lack of political pressure that it has been lying there, said general secretary of Ottappalam Citizens’ Forum Santhosh K Shankar
“Both the Kollam and Palakkad maintenance sheds should have been equipped in such a manner that each could handle seven rakes a week.
“ The necessary funds need to be allotted in the budget since once the doubling and electrification of the Malabar region is also complete, more Memu trains will be introduced and they need to be maintained here,” said former general manager of RITES and former Chief engineer of Konkan railway C Raju.
Since there are only 5 rakes operating in the state, there is a need for operating and maintaining seven more rakes here. The commissioning of more MEMU trains in the state can also help long distance trains to reduce their stops and thereby increase their speed, he added.