Rail corridor to get double track by March

Work on Thiruvananthapuram-Mangaluru stretch was to be completed in Dec.

The entire Thiruvananthapuram-Mangaluru rail corridor is set to get double track, with the long-pending doubling of the 16.5-km Ettumanur-Chingavanam stretch scheduled to be over by the first week of March.

The work that was scheduled to be completed by December 2021 was postponed by three months due to rain that lasted till the first week of December, railway sources said.

Deadline of 2024

Track doubling through Kottayam will reduce travel time by approximately 10 minutes. The construction wing of Railways has set March 2024 as the deadline to complete track doubling in the 69-km Ernakulam-Ambalappuzha and also in the 86.50-km Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari stretches. Once complete, the entire Kanyakumari-Mangaluru stretch will get double track, they said.

Kerala got a budget grant of ₹871 crore, an increase of 134%, for the 2021-2022 fiscal, from which Railways handed over requisite funds to the State government to acquire land to double the three congested corridors.

The Ernakulam-Ambalappuzha track could be doubled by March 2024, if the State government handed over the entire land by May this year, sources said. The three reaches on the corridor are Ernakulam-Kumbalam (7.7 km); Kumbalam-Thuravur (15.59 km); and Thuravur-Ambalappuzha (45.9 km).

Long bridges

The stretch has many long bridges, while earth for the track work must come from neighbouring districts such as Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and Ernakulam.

Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden had recently petitioned Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav, demanding that the railway board sanction the ‘detailed estimates’ for the track doubling work on the Ernakulam-Ambalappuzha stretch, since it was a pre-requisite to distribute compensation to landowners.

Railways had deposited with the State government the funds to acquire land in Kerala for doubling track on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari stretch, following which the government promised to hand over land in 2022. The stretch that passes through landslide-prone areas will have five tunnels.

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