If all goes well, the work on the much-awaited railway line connecting Kochi with the suburbs that run parallel to the Venduruthy bridge will be completed by June first week.
According to Railway authorities, the work on the bridge is on a full swing and the railway line will possibly be commissioned in June itself paving way for better passenger and cargo transport between Ernakulam and suburbs.
“Ninety per cent of the work on the line that connects the South Railway Station and the Cochin Harbour Terminus has been completed. Only piling and earth works of the approach bridge on either side of the lines remain. The work was recently awarded to an agency. We expect to wrap up the project by June,” said top officials in the engineering wing of the Railways.
Once the approach bridge is completed, the line will be connected to the existing railway routes,” the officials added.
The work has currently cost the Railways `30 crore. Another `10 crore will be required to finish the remaining work, the officials said. Once the work is completed, it will help decongest the passenger traffic in the city.
The railway line at Venduruthy had once catered to the needs of the passenger traffic at the Cochin Harbour Terminus till its pillars were damaged by a dredger which was illegally plying under the bridge. It took the Railways more than eight months to repair the pillars.
However, by then, the line had become shaky and the Railways felt that it would be risky for passenger trains to ply through the route. “Though the risk has been cleared, we are still doubtful about running passenger trains in the route since electrification has not been completed. However, the Navy has strongly opposed the process of electrification in that route citing risk to their flight movements. If trains have to move through the route (since most of the trains under the Thiruvananthapuram division is electrified) the Railways is left with no choice but to change the electric engines to diesel engines every time a train has to pass through the route. It is extremely time consuming,” said Ernakulam Area Manager P L Ashok Kumar.
Meanwhile, there are allegations that the Railways are yet to take any legal action against the shipping company whose dredger had hit the railway line at Venduruthy in 2007. Though it is alleged that the Railways have incurred a loss of `50 crore ever since the bridge stopped catering to passenger traffic and for its repair. The Railways have not filed a lawsuit against the erring shipping company. Currently, the CBI has launched an investigation in this matter.
Cochin Harbour Terminus
The Cochin Harbour Terminus was one of the oldest railway stations in Ernakulam. However, the decline in passenger traffic during the past one decade has left nothing but greying benches and rusted tracks. There is pressure to revive the station into a passenger station. “The station needs a complete revamp. However, we will move ahead with the renovation works only if we get a nod from the top-level officials. Sufficient posts like a railway counter clerk and station master are needed. It will take some time,” Ashok Kumar added.