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Home > City Resources > Transportation > The Seven Year Odyssey - Konkan Railways

The Seven Year Odyssey--Konkan Railways

The Konkan Line passing throughThe Konkan is a coastal strip of land bound by the Sahyadri Hills on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. The task to connect Mumbai on one endand Mangalore at the other was considered formidable. The terrain is hilly and considered to be one of the most difficult. The Konkan Railway undertook the gruesome task to connect the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The Konkan Railway Corporation is an undertaking of the Ministry of Railways and is headed by; one Ex-Officio-Chairman, a Managing Director , three full-time Directors and representatives from, the four participating states and The Ministry of Railways. By the way, India is the only country in the world which has a Ministry for Railways.

The task undertaken by Konkan Railway was considered insurmountable. Constructing 2153 bridges and 91 tunnels (in soft soil) in just 760 kms. of mountainous terrain in a record time of  7 years was a daunting task that required numerous technological innovations and a lot of will power, dedication and determination. The project was built at a total cost of Rs. 3550 crores on a BOT concept with equity shares of Govt. of India (51%) and State Governments of Maharashtra(22%), Goa(6%), Karnataka(15%) and Kerala(6%).

Sridharan was the CMD of Konkan Railway at the time, for which he was awarded the Padmashree. Rajaram, the current Managing Director, was at the time, Director of Projects. The laying of the railway line on May 1, 1998, reduced travelling time from 41 hrs to 14-15 hrs between Goa and Mumbai and from 36 hrs to 16 hrs between Mumbai and Mangalore.

At present, there are about thirteen Express and Passenger trains running on Passing through exotic sorroundingsthe route carrying over 5 million passengers per year. It has given a much-needed impetus to the socio-economic development on the western coastline of India; transforming forever, the lives of the eleven million people who live here. The completion of the Konkan Railway was a "tryst with destiny" for many people in the Konkan region, coming in the 50th year of the nation's Independence.

Konkan Railway traverses through picturesque regions of the west coast of India. Despite its scenic beauty it has not been fully exploited to its true potential largely due to non-availability of proper mass-transport systems. Konkan Railway has opened up areas hitherto unknown to tourists, like Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Karwar district which have plenty of unexplored beaches and other tourist locations. In an effort to make the region more accessible to tourists, important super fast trains like Delhi-Trivandrum Rajdhani Express are being diverted over the Konkan Railway.

The RO/RO (Roll-on/Roll-off) service is a new concept introduced by the Konkan Railway, of carrying road vehicles on freight vehicles whereby the railway plays the role of an associate partner of road transport rather than acting as an alternative to road transport. It is a symbiotic system where all the pliers in transport are benefited: Truck owners who save fuel, manpower and wear and tear of trucks, the truck drivers, better comfort and lesser risk of The map depicting the railway routeaccidents, the Consigner/Consignee due to quicker transit time, the Konkan Railway through sharing freight earning and the general public and other highway users, through reduced congestion and lesser pollution levels. As Mr. Laxmi Narayan, Chief Engineer at Konkan Railways says, "The Konkan Railway has started and is running the RORO (Roll on Roll Off) system specially for goods needed to be transfered over a long distance and is traditionally done by trucks. You need to think laterally not immerse yourself in routine. Konkan Railway does that."

"The Konkan Railway is very proactive. We prepare Projects and Feasibility Reports and submit them to the Government. We are not reactive."

B Rajaram, the Managing Director, an alumni of IIT, Chennai is considered by all to be, a technocrat and not a bureaucrat. The success of  Konkan Railway is attributed to him and his vision. The new technological solution in terms of the Skybus Metro based on the linear induction motor technology, with light weight coaches called 'Skybuses' which are suspended from bogies and travel below rail guides, is a pet project. The project is planned to provide a much needed alternative transportation solution, which is financially viable and environment friendly. The advantages of the system range from no land acquisition problems, fire protection and deep penetration to a capacity of 15,000 to 50,000 persons per hour, per direction and no force majeure.

"The metro project costs about Rs. 250 crores per kilometre for laying wherein the Skybus costs Rs. 45 crores for the same distance. There is a problem of fire hazard, watering etc. and it also takes more time to construct the underground tunnels and put the system in place. An elevated railway track costs about Rs.150 crore. Comparatively the Skybus is the most economical. The Skybus has received the approval of the Maharashtra Government and feasibility studies are on. We plan to begin with it in Mumbai and then extend the services to Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow and Calcutta and maybe then the rest of the country."

"Konkan Railway has constructed 91 tunnels with a total lenght of 85kms. on the KPCL system. The longest tunnel is 6.5 km. (Karbude tunnels). We are also constructing tunnels for Andhra Pradesh (Owk tunnel) and Maharashtra Government. The Andhra Pradesh tunnel is 2km. long. The tunnel has been day lighted (the tunnel is through) in June 2001. The entire project has been completed ahead of schedule. The total cost of the project has been 18.5 crore, a very competitive price. Otherwise the project was scheduled to approximately take 24 months and cost as much."

Another project underway in Jammu & Kashmir is the Jawahar Road Tunnel. The KRCL is involved in the designing and ventilation scheme of the tunnels on the Jammu & Kashmir highway. The major kinds of tunnels are for the roadways, railways and irrigation (the Andra Pradesh project is one such tunnel).

The Konkan Railway in a very short span of time have proved themselves to be skilled in their area of of expertise. The activities of the organisation contribute to the mission of the organisation which is:

Konkan Railway shall evolve into an economic, eco friendly and cost effective catalyst, for the growth and prosperity of the Konkan Railway region. Konkan Railway cares and provides;

For people: Safety, Punctuality,, Comfort, Amenities and Services.

For goods: On time loading, In time delivery, Intact transit, Instant compensation, Value added logistic support.

Konkan Railway adds value to society;

Integrity and self discipline;

Austerity and Economy ;

Polite and confident Skilled and trained-true public servants;

Konkan Railway Technology: Cutting edge for next millennium;

Eco friendly and promotes sustainable growth;

Less- maintenance or maintenance free;

Fault tolerant and open to growth for future needs;

Reliable, available and enabling.

By: Supriya Rathod


Konkan Railways
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