It will increase track capacity marginally as it allows trains from both directions to move on the main line
The South Western Railway is planning to construct sidings as a workaround to tackle the issue of increasing capacity on the Mangalore–Hassan route, said Rajkumar Lal, Divisional Railway Manager, Mysore.
A layout has been prepared and surveys have been done to construct sidings.
Mr. Lal said, however, the Commissioner of Rail Safety has to give permission to allow the construction. This will cost between Rs. 9 crore and Rs. 12 crore. The Hassan-Mangalore Rail Development Corporation, a special purpose vehicle (SPV), will bear the capital cost and the Railways will bear the cost of staff.
He said the route has limited capacity as any expansion on the tracks was difficult and expensive because of the hilly terrain. Getting space of even a kilometre is tough as it requires cutting through the hills, which means high capital costs. At present, 10 pairs of trains can move on the route, he said.
A locopilot said a siding is used on tracks with an incline to divert a runaway vehicle by giving it the option of moving to the side, instead of allowing it to travel ahead and colliding into another vehicle on the main track.
He said it increases track capacity marginally as it allows trains from both directions to move on the main line. In the absence of catch sidings, the main line is occupied, limiting the number of trains that can move on it.
Mr. Lal said the track’s “capacity crunch” was being examined after discussions were held with the Chairman of New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) to consider carrying cargo through Railways instead of by road.
Prakash Mandoth, former member, Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, South Western and Southern Railway, said sidings could help carry cargo from NMPT, which lacks connectivity, by reducing time, fuel consumption and turnaround time.
Mohammed Ameen, president, Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Indusrty (KCCI), said most of the cargo is coal for industry in Hospet. Port officials had discussed the alternative of using Railways as Shiradi Ghat on the road route would be under repair for six months from December this year.
He said, “Lack of connectivity has left Mangalore port underutilised.”