VISAKHAPATNAM: Spadework appears to have commenced for announcement of a separate railway zone for Andhra Pradesh in the ensuing Railway Budget scheduled to be presented in Parliament on February 25. Less than a month ago, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi and submitted a representation seeking early creation of the new railway zone with Visakhapatnam as its headquarters.
Sources in the Railways have confirmed that estimates are being prepared for administrative costs, staff division, zonal jurisdiction and also evaluation of the assets. “Field-level study has begun in connection with the proposed railway zone. But we may not be submitting a report to the ministry before the introduction of the Railway Budget as it requires a thorough study before finalising the broad contours for bifurcating the East Coast Railway (ECoR). We also need to consider the objections raised by the ECoR in this regard,” said highly placed sources.
The Railway authorities do not rule out a formal announcement by the minister during the presentation of the Railway Budget. The spadeworks are expected to be completed in 2016-17, followed by laying of a foundation stone for the new railway zone.
The separation of the Waltair division from the ECoR and formation of a new railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters, has been a long pending demand. The same was assured during the state bifurcation as per the AP Reorganisation Act. Though there were apprehensions over Visakhapatnam as the headquarters, all the air has been cleared after the CM himself made an appeal to Suresh Prabhu in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Waltair division has proposed for introduction of three new express trains from Visakhapatnam to Varanasi, Bangalore and Howrah as part of the 2016-17 Budget. It has also sought diversion of four pairs of Express trains to Visakhapatnam instead of stoppage at Duvvada which include Howarah-Yesvantpur Duranto, Howrah-Yesvantpur AC, Howrah-Prashanti Nilayam and Kamakhya-Chennai.
Based on the representations from the people’s representatives, the Railway authorities also sought stoppage of Coromandel Express and Howrah-Kanyakumari Express at Vizianagaram besides proposing stoppage of 11 Express trains at Srikakulam Road station. Anakapalle MP Avanthi Srinivasa Rao has urged the South Central Railways to improve passenger amenities at Anakapalle and Yelamanchili stations besides opening reservation counters at Chodavaram and Madugula.
Status of 2015-16 Works
- Works worth Rs 695 crore sanctioned for Waltair division in the previous Railway Budget
- Survey and design for establishment of Wagon periodic overhaul (POH) workshop as well as the diesel locoshed and the electrical locoshed proposed in the previous budget, has been completed. However, the construction works are yet to commence.
- Study has been completed and proposals prepared for the multi-purpose complex with multi-level parking at Visakhapatnam Railway station on the Gnanapuram side. Tenders are expected to be invited soon this year