A railway hub looks to the future

As a mass transport system it has hardly any comparable peers either in terms of scale of operations or economy. The comfort it offers, despite the occasional hassles, for long distance journey is unmatched. With a dedicated pathway it is also the best bet for inter-city travel. Given these benefits, it is hardly surprising that rail connectivity is reckoned to be an imperative for the economic and commercial growth of a place and Mysore is no different.

As the divisional headquarters, Mysore is the hub of railway operations over a vast swathe of area called the old Mysore region which was administered by the erstwhile Maharajas of Mysore. In addition, parts of central Karnataka are also within the jurisdiction of the division. Given its importance it is no wonder that the Railways has acquired overwhelming importance in the scheme of overall growth and development of the Mysore region.

This is also evident in the annual statistics released by the authorities and there is a year-on-year growth both in terms of the number of passengers transported as also in the revenue earned. And Mysore, which is at the centre of this hub, is not immune from the growth pressures either. The city railway station, which hardly operated two dozen trains till recent times, has emerged as a major operational hub and currently handles more than 40 pairs of trains daily. The number of passengers being handled at the station borders around 30,000 per day and shoots up to 50,000-60,000 during peak tourism and Dasara season.

Catalysts

The railway authorities believe these numbers are bound to register a dramatic increase with the completion of the track doubling work and electrification between Mysore and Bangalore expected to be complete by the middle of next year. For, not only will the travelling time reduce from the current three hours to less than two hours, the number of trains being operated from the city station will also increase. This calls for augmenting the station’s infrastructure and the authorities are gearing up for the change.

While the second entrance is operational, departure of more number of trains from platforms five and six will be planned in future to decongest the main entrance. The number of ticket counters at the second entrance is bound to be increased and Senior Divisional Commercial Manager Anup Dayanand Sadhu told the stakeholders at the 21{+s}{+t}Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee Meeting held in the city that an additional ticketing counter will be opened once the minimum stipulated number of tickets – as required under the railway rules – are sold by the existing counter.

The existing facilities at the station will increase with the commissioning of the Multi Functional Complex which had been held up due to legal issues pertaining to land use at the Ministry level, and is expected to be resolved soon.

The city railway station will also have escalators for the benefit of passengers while an integrated security system has been proposed for the station in view of its growing importance. The length of the main platforms have been increased to accommodate 24-coach trains and the Divisional Railway Manager Vinod Kumar pointed out that the aim was to make Mysore the originating and terminal station for the New Delhi-bound Karnataka Express which currently originates and terminates at Bangalore.

This necessitates augmenting maintenance lines which is already underway and the city railway station has already created additional pit lines to undertake both primary and secondary maintenance of coaches and rakes, a must for any station dreaming to have long distance trains.

The net impact of these developments is not only improved connectivity to Mysore, but evidence of the growing commercial vibrancy of the city.

It is not surprising that in the recent DURCC meeting, there were demands for more trains from other centres including Hassan, Arsikere, Hubli and Davangere to Mysore and Bangalore. Additional bogies have been sought to be attached to trains to Shimoga while slip coach services has been demanded for providing connectivity to trains going to Mumbai (but the proposal has been turned down by the authorities as the slip coach services are being discontinued by the Railways from the safety point of view and it does not want to take up shunting operations with passengers on board the coaches).

But these are “micro issues” and in the larger context, the importance of railways for Mysore can be stemmed from the fact that it opens up new vistas and connectivity to major commercial hubs like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune that is a must for the city’s long-term commercial growth and development.

There is also a long-felt need for inter-city super fast express trains connecting Mysore with other major commercial centres in central and north Karnataka including Davangere and Hubli.

R. Krishna Kumar

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-districtplus/a-railway-hub-looks-to-the-future/article4658637.ece

Rlys stresses on comfort, fire safety in coach designs

Fire safety tops the list of priority of the railways’ research and design wing, officials have said. Thermoplastic interiors, stainless steel coaches, entertainment facilities and smoke detection systems will soon be in place in trains, said senior railway officials at a seminar in Chennai.

Addressing a seminar on emerging coach technology, general manager of Integral Coach Factory Abhay K Khanna said measures were being taken to make the entire railway operations and services “green” and safe.“We will soon start using biodegradable and recyclable materials to build coaches.The railway coach factories are already self-sufficient in their energy needs with 10.5 MW power generated from windmills in Tirunelveli district,”Khanna said.

V Ramachandran, the director of Research Design and Standards Organisation, said detection of inflammable materials still remains a challenge in coaches with doors and windows open. “Even an effective smoke detection system may not raise an alarm inside a fast moving train with all its windows and doors are opened. We are working out on an effective mechanism to address all the safety guidelines suggested by various studies,” said Ramachandran.

Forensic experts have found existence of inflammable materials and fire crackers in the ill-fated compartment of Tamil Nadu Express, which caught fire in July last killing more than 30 passengers. Railway is also eying at possible tie ups with international coach designers to build light-weight coaches that will serve long and needless maintenance.

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