The long-pending demand of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., (KRCL) with the Railway Ministry to attach the entire Mangalore region to its network has got a boost with railway users in coastal Karnataka coming together to support the issue.
The Rail Prayanikara Hitarakshana Samiti, based in Kundapura in Udupi district, recently submitted a memorandum to Railway Minister M. Mallikarjuna Kharge and Udupi-Chickmaglur Lok Sabha Member K. Jayaprakash Hegde pointing how leaving out Mangalore region from the network had affected the corporation, floated jointly by Karnataka, Kerala, Goa and Maharashtra in 1998.
The samiti said that it is only logical that the entire Mangalore railway network, comprising Mangalore Central passenger coaching terminal, Mangalore old port goods shed, Mangalore Junction (Kankanadi) and Panambur (New Mangalore Port) should be part of the network.
As the railway network around Mangalore is now controlled by three zones — Southern, South Western Railway and KRCL — there have always been operational difficulties and detention of trains, it said. Though Mangalore Central is a major coaching terminal, Southern Railway has not evinced much interest in developing it. KRCL is unable to start new trains from Mangalore because of these operational difficulties, the samiti said.
The corporation, even after 15 years of its formation and owning 760-km route network, is unable to clear the loans raised for the construction of the unique project. The accumulated losses are over Rs. 3,000 crore, they said.
Bringing Mangalore region with about 33-km route network is expected to bring in more revenue to the corporation (over Rs. 400 crore a year) and increase operational efficiency of the network.
KRCL Chief Public Relations Officer Siddeshwar C. Telugu told The Hindu that the corporation would be happy if the Ministry attaches Mangalore region to it. “We also want the Panvel-Roha (about 60 km) network to be attached to us since these attachments would enhance the operational efficiency,” he said.
KRCL is unable to start new trains from Mangalore as terminal facility is absent at Thokur, the last station under KRCL near Mangalore. If Mangalore and Panvel-Roha regions are attached to KRCL, the corporation could definitely develop the network, including track doubling and electrification, he said.
Such a measure could also help KRCL to clear accumulated losses. In fact, KRCL has been making operational profits since three years, about Rs. 2.5 crore a year.