New Delhi: South Western Railway has conducted an online press conference on doubling of Railway track between Castlerock and Vasco da gama today. The conference has been conducted by Shri P.K. Mishra, Additional General Manager, South Western Railway. Shri P.K. Kshatriya, Chief Project Manager, RVNL; Shri S.K. Jha, Additional Divisional Railway Manager of Hubballi Division were present. Smt E. Vijaya, Deputy General Manager and Chief Public Relations Officer gave a brief introduction of the project and how improved connectivity can benefit the state of Goa. Before planning work, Environment Impact Assessment study has been got conducted by IISc, Bengaluru
Existing single line railway track between Castle Rock to Vasco-da-gama in the state of Goa was laid more than a century back.
Ministry of Railways has sanctioned a project of doubling of Railway track between Hospet (Karnataka) and Vasco-da-gama(Goa) (342 km) in the year 2010-11 at a cost of Rs.2127Cr. The project has since been nearly completed in the state of Karnataka except 10 Km between Unkal and Hubballi, which is targeted for commissioning by Mar.2021. About 7 km track between Madgoan- Majorda in the state of Goa has also been doubled. Remaining stretch of about 90 Km is in the State of Goa ,where works are awarded for doubling and are being taken up after ensuring necessary clearances.
Doubling of the said section will be a game changer for the state of Goa, taking the development to new heights, by giving impetus to trade and enabling easier and faster passenger movement. Existing rail network is constrained due to single line long ghat sections severely limiting train running capacity.
While the average section running time in the plain section is 8 to 10 minutes, it takes 70-80 minutes to pass the critical ghat section reducing sectional capacity to 15 % of sections in plains.Moreover the ghat section is extremely landslide prone and being single line the state remains frequently cutoff during the rainy season.
In view of above constraints, it is imperative that double line rail connectivity be provided for improving mobility and all weather rail links in the region.
The following advantages have been elaborated.
More number of passenger trains,
Better intrastate connectivity
Boost to trade and commerce among adjoining states
Increased tourist inflow
Augmenting infrastructure at intermediate stations
Relaxing bottlenecks of ghat section operation
Improving passenger amenities at stations
Remodelling yards to deal 24 coaches
Construction of 5 Road Over Bridges and 3 Road Under bridges for enabling road traffic
(detailed benefits listed in annexure)
On being asked about the purpose of doubling the track, it has been informed by Railway officials that the same is to strengthen connectivity to facilitate easy and faster movement of the public ,in the most energy efficient way.
When queried on the quantity of coal that will be transported ,Shri Mishra stated that presently Emphasis is being given for usage of environment friendly sources of energy /resources for power generation.
As a result ,the use of coal is gradually reducing and the share of non-conventional energy sources is gradually increasing . In the year 2015-16, SWR carried 12 Million Tonnes of coal which has reduced to 9 Million Tonnes in the year 2019-20 showing a reduction of 25% within a span of 4 years.
As doubling is being done predominantly in Railway land, there is no additional impact on the environment. Care will be taken to ensure least disturbance during construction and alignment will be decided to avoid trees to the extent possible.
Alignment is being planned in such a way that not even a single building will be affected fully for the doubling project.
Only compound walls in very few houses (less than 12) in stretch, may be affected and Railway is trying to avoid even this.
Finally it is assured by Smt Vijaya that all stakeholders will be taken into confidence, genuine concerns of the public will be addressed. Execution of work will be done only by liaising with State officials and obtaining necessary approvals and clearances from the District Administration and Government of Goa.
Annexure Advantages of Proposed doubling of Castle Rock toVasco da gama
Boosting trade and Commerce:
This is a critical railway link connecting the state of Goa to Southern states in general and Karnataka in particular. Strengthening the infrastructure by doubling will boost trade and commerce between these adjoining States. Essential commodities being supplied to Goa from the hinterland of Karnataka can be switched over to energy efficient and all-weather rail transport.
Running of more passenger trains:
At present, only 6 i.e 3 pairs of Express and Passenger trains are running every day, in this stretch. For increasing section capacity, so as to introduce additional passenger train services, doubling is a prerequisite. There is huge demand for introducing new passenger trains from representatives of public connecting Goa with Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which can be fulfilled only by completing doubling of Railway track.
In addition to being single line, the ghat section between Castlerock and Kulem has severe operational restrictions imposed Owing to safety considerations. Because of this reason, the actual capacity of running trains is even lesser than the normal chartered capacity of a single line section. Under doubling, the necessary works for relaxing bottle necks will be done.
Increasing tourist footfall:
In 2019, approximately 80 Lakh tourists visited the state of Goa of which around 40 % ,i.e., 32 lakh have travelled by train. After completion of doubling, the number of tourists using train services is expected to increase manifold, due to improved connectivity and additional number of passenger trains. It is anticipated that domestic tourism will witness unprecedented surge post COVID and to facilitate more and more tourists visit Goa making Goa the “Most preferred Tourist Destination”, Railway infrastructure shall be equipped to handle more number of trains.
Many intermediate stations in this route such as Sanvordem-Curchorem have huge untapped tourist potential. By extending better Rail connectivity to these stations, the hidden potential can be unlocked giving scope to generating more places of tourist interest ,thereby augmenting revenue to the state of Goa.
Intra State Connectivity:
Hitherto, Intra state movement in Goa is solely through by Road By developing Railway network taking up doubling of track, cheaper and faster alternative of transport will be available for public that eases movement within the state of Goa. By providing connectivity to towns such as Kulem, Kalem, Sanvordem-Curchorem from Vasco and Madgaon, local economies in these places will prosper.
Improving facilities at Stations:
Railways is not able to introduce 24 coach length Mail/Express trains in this section ,as existing platform lengths are suitable for handling trains with 18-20 coaches only. Extension of platform will be possible only with yard remodelling under doubling.
Majority of Stations in the state of Goa (Dabolim, Sankval, Cansaulim, Majorda, Chadorgoa, Sanvordem, Kalem, Kulem) were not provided with suitable passenger amenities such as Platform shelters, Foot over bridges, Platform toilets, Ramp for Disabled passengers etc.during construction. All these works can be taken up under doubling ,along with extension of platforms.
Construction of Road Over Bridges for uninterrupted road traffic:
As the existing Railway track was laid more than 100 years ago, many towns have developed on both sides of Railway track, especially between Kulem and Madgaon Railway stations. Residents of these areas are facing a lot of inconvenience in crossing the Railway track and have to travel many kilometres for level crossings. Keeping this aspect in view, it has been planned to construct 3 new subways at Kamral, Curchorem-Sanvordem, Gandhinagar/Chander Goa and 5 new Road Over Bridges- 3 near Kulem,, 1 at Kalem and 1 at Sao-Jose-Da-Areal along with doubling. Also two narrow Arch Bridges will be widened.
As Naval command at Goa is strategically located in Arabian Sea, to meet the need of moving troops and materials at short notice in case of emergencies, a good Railway network is of importance from Defence point of view. Marmagoa Port is a major port of the country and to initiate port led development in the surrounding region as planned under “SagarMala” programme ,better connectivity to the port assumes significance.
Conservation of Greenery:
Laying of track for double line is proposed to be done, right next to the existing Railway track only ensuring no impact on flora and fauna will be there on this account .No land in the new area is being acquired. Also ,the work will be done within the railway land, minimising the need for land acquisition. Railway is one of the pioneers in conservation of the environment and taking up initiatives towards a greener planet. Moreover upcoming electrification will make Railways Carbon neutral In the last 5 years Railway has planted 33,000 saplings in the jurisdiction of Goa and will continue to work with same commitment .With minimum/negligible impact on the environment, a reliable and futuristic transport network for the state of Goa will be developed.
During the initial construction of the meter gauge line in this route, it was originally planned to do earth work and tunnels suitable for double lines. However, the line was to connect to British Frontier India and to be extended upto Bellary on single line .Hence, the foresight of the planners at that stage could not materialize ,for maintaining uniformity of Railway line.
Getting on the Development bus :
Projects aimed at improving infrastructure are being executed throughout the country across all states. Works for laying of New railway lines are being done in ecologically sensitive regions of North East etc. by exercising due care .The Vision 2024 for Railways envisages having minimum double lined and electrified Rail network in all routes . State of Goa shall not miss the development bus and rather shall lead in implantation of sanctioned projects in the interest of State and Nation as a whole. The vision of Vibrant Goa with a flourishing economy can be realised only by having a Rail network that will take care of transport requirements of tomorrow efficiently.