The work of replacing metal sleepers with concrete ones progressing in the line connecting the Old Railway Station from Pachalam on Wednesday. (Photo: SUNOJ NINAN MATHEW)
Kochi: The development of Old Railway Station (ERG), located in heart of the city, into terminus station is finally on track with Southern Railways hastening track replacement and signaling works in the section and the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) initiating infrastructure development process.
The nearly 46-acre land behind the High Court was in an abandoned condition since 1990 when train handling facilities were shifted to the Ernakulam Junction railway station. However, its redevelopment was necessitated with the main station getting congested and in the wake of demand for suburban services.
"We've hastened track replacement and signaling works, started in December last, so as to make the station ready for train operation in a year's time. Currently work of replacing metal sleepers with concrete ones is progressing in the stretch," said a senior railway official.
However, the train operation would commence only upon execution of first phase of station infrastructure project by the KRDCL, he added.
The KRDCL is awaiting nod of railway board to start implementing the Rs 505-crore infrastructure development project.
"The plan includes provision of terminal facilities with three passenger platforms, four stabling and two pitlines in the first phase. Commercial development activities, mainly construction of a hotel complex there, too have been proposed. We expect the railways to provide the sanction soon," said a KRDCL official.
The project is planned to be carried out on a public private partnership (PPP) model. The authorities are also planning to move the court for a stay on a recent order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banning all construction activities in areas near Mangalavanam, a bird sanctuary, that include the ERG premise.
The development of the ERG was one among the seven projects taken up by the KRDCL in 2016. The station was built in 1902 by erstwhile Maharaja of Kochi.
Meanwhile, there are a few hurdles for realisation of the project. "The local administration should act proactively to rehabilitate 21 families who have encroached the railway land there," said K P Harihara Kumar, General Convenor, Ernakulam Old Railway Station Vikasana Samithy.