The long-pending demand of the city for an efficient Suburban Rail service is being revived once more, with the experts who participated in the ‘Vision 2030’ seminar reiterating the necessity of such a service to decongest Kochi from the existing traffic blockade hassles.
Not only Kochi, but many satellite towns of the city are also facing similar transport problems. The need for an efficient and extended Suburban service arises in this context, connecting all the satellite towns, experts say.
In his presentation at the seminar organised by the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), C Raju, retired official of Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE), said that the bottleneck section of railway system in Kerala is the Shoranur-Thrissur stretch, where the traffic from Chennai, Bangalore and from northern parts of India via the Konkan route merges.
“Quadrupling the railway lines at this stretch is not feasible, owing to the restrictions in land acquisition,” he said.“Therefore, the best alternative is the introduction of Automatic Block Signalling (ABS) in the Shoranur-Ernakulam sector. Through ABS, the present line capacity can be increased by up to three times,” Raju said.
ABS is a system that consists of a set of signals which will divide the railway line into a series of blocks.
The movement of trains between the blocks will be controlled through automatic signals.
Raju said that the introduction of ABS will facilitate the introduction of Suburban train services covering Palakkad, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts. After completing the electrification of Shoranur-Kozhikode line, the service can be extended to Kozhikode too.
The suburban rail services are popular for their energy efficiency and environmental acceptability. Nearly five million people use these services in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad daily, the study report says.
Suburban services can be started in the Guruvayur-Thrissur-Ernakulam High Court sector with Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMU) trains. This can be introduced with the services of three trains in peak hours.
“The Old Railway Station at the High Court can be modified for the purpose. The proposed Metro Rail too has a station at High Court. With both the services, the traffic congestion issues in the city can be dealt with effectively. “Since MEMU trains stop for only thirty seconds at every station, the services will not affect any platform shortage,” experts added.
The study report also appealed to the state government to carry forward the idea of introducing the Suburban Rail Service in Kochi with the Indian Railways, as has been done in Hyderabad.
The programme ‘Vision 2030’ was envisaged by GCDA to raise Kochi to the status of a Metro City. The ideas which came up at the seminar will be submitted to the government for its consideration.