Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on Friday said the doubling of the Konkan Railway network, which will be carried out in phases, would begin from November 8. The formal launch would be done at Roha in Western Maharashtra, the northern tip of Konkan network, Mr. Prabhu said after laying the foundation stone for George Fernandes Institute Tunnel Technology being established by KRCL here. The Minister said electrification of the Konkan network would be undertaken simultaneously with doubling between Roha and Thokur in Karnataka.
“Konkan Railway has been a single track since its inception. We need multiple tracks because it is very difficult to move freight traffic as well as passengers on a single track,” Mr. Prabhu said and asserted that that doubling of the track would also help KRCL earn more revenue. He was responding to a demand for double-track in Goa sector by Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar earlier.
KRCL chairman and managing director Banu Prakash Tayal said KRCL was planning to raise the funds required for doubling and electrification—about Rs. 10,500 crore—through external as well internal sources. Various options, including the Initial Public Offering route, the World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and other financial institutions, were being explored, he said.
Mr. Prabhu said the Konkan Railway was looking to electrify the entire length of the route (736 km), in order to save costs as well as preserve the environment along the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats route. “The huge amount of diesel used will continue to damage the environment and it (diesel) is also expensive. It has been proved in many places that electrification payback period is very short,” Mr. Prabhu said adding that KRCL would also try its best to tap solar and wind generated electricity for operational purposes.
Mr. Tayal later explained, “Through an arrangement with Power Trading Corporation of India, we would exchange the power. The amount of money that will be saved as a consequence of electrification, will itself pay for the long term the project of electrification as well as doubling.”
Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on Friday said that country’s first double-decker Shatabdi train will soon run between Mumbai and Goa.
He was speaking at a function to lay the foundation stone for the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology organised by Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) here. Responding to a demand from Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Mr. Prabhu also said efforts would be made to start a Rajdhani train from Goa to the national capital.
The Minister also said a special train would be operated along the Konkan Railway route in Goa by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for the tourist traffic. Even a holiday train could be operated by IRCTC to benefit Goa’s economy, he said.
Mr. Parsekar had earlier said Goa, a top beach tourism destination in the country, needed an alternative safe transport system in place of buses plying between Goa and Mumbai.