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my KR

A collectors item of India's first non-IR Railway system

Konkan Railway has been considered to be a dream come true for many thousands of villagers spread across the coastal regions of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. The 755 Kilometre long 'single broad gauge' railway line was commisioned on January 26, 1998. This railway line provides a direct link to thousands of middle-class people, mainly villagers, living along India's Western Coast. Konkan railway passes through the very scenic and fertile regions of India's Western Coast. The ardous task of crossing the high Sahayadri range (Western Ghats) has been achieved by use of tunnels. Konkan railway is a must for every railfan in India or abroad.

Some facts about KR:

KRCL is a 755 kilometre long single broad guage railway line connecting Roha in Maharashtra to Thokur in Karnataka via Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) and Madgaon (Goa). The railway track goes through a very scenic terrain. KRCL employed a new concept of building tunnels instead of going around hills. This helped in reducing the time required to complete an end-to-end journey. The longest tunnel on KRCL is Karbude, near Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, with a length of a stunning 6.5 kilometres. The next feature are the never ending rivers which has to be crossed, the section being along the coast. The longest bridge is built across the Sharavati River near Honnavar in Karnataka. The bridge is 2.065 kilometres long. KRCL has been taking very serious safety measures to prevent dangers like landslides in an area which is seismologically active. The entire 755 kilometres long KRCL section has 1679 minor bridges, 174 Major bridges, over 50 tunnels and 59 stations.

About the corporation...

Konkan Railway corporation limited (KRCL) was the first company other than Indian Railways to build its own railway line. KRCL is a company owned by the Government of India, Indian Railways, State governments of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The company is headquartered at CBD Belapur in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra. The company was incorporated in the year 1990 under the able guidance of Mr. Sreedharan as the chairman and managing director. (He is now at the head of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, DMRC). The project was kicked off by the present Minister for Agriculture, Shri Sharad Pawar on September 15, 1990. The project was completed and dedicated to the nation on January 26, 1998, just 7 years and 3 months since it was launched. The project was touted to take atleast 25 years to complete. KRCL imported special equipments to bore tunnels in to the Sahyadris.

The Idea was born in the early 1970s. Central Railway did a tentative survey of a new railway line from Mumbai to Mangalore between 1971 and 1973. An indepth survey was conducted between 1975 and 1977. In 1984, the railway board authorised a new "engineering-cum-traffic" survey for a new line from Roha to Mangalore. Southern Railway completed the survey for a line from Mangalore to Madgaon in 1985 and the survey report was submitted in 1988. The survey indicated that the line was required due to the booming economy. But sharp gradients and curves were posing a bottle neck!

Preliminary works on the project started way back in 1964 with the construction of the Diva-Panvel line. The line was further extended to Apta in 1966. In 1977, the then Railway Ministed Prof. Madhu Dandavate sanctioned a line from Apta to Roha, which was commissioned in 1986. When Mr. George Fernandes took over as the Railway minister in 1989, the dream slowly turned to reality! In 1990, a new corporation - "Konkan Railway Corporation Limited" was formed. The track works were almost overy by late 1996, and freight services began in early 1997. One particular tunnel (at Pernem, Goa) was delaying works due to geological instabilities. Passenger Services begain in Late 1997 between Mangalore and Pernem. The Pernem tunnel was finally completed, and the line was completed in January 1998. The first train to cross over from Goa to Maharashtra was KAR2 (Karwar-Ratnagiri DMU; This train is now extinct). The first train from Mumbai to Goa (Madgaon) was 0111 Konkankanya express, which crossed over into Madgaon on January 26, 1998.

The section today...

The 760 kilometre section is open to railway traffic. About 20 kilometres of the line, from Chainage 739.785 to 760.125, in under Southern Railway Palakkad Division. The remaining 740 kms of line (Chainage 0.000 to 739.785) is under Konkan Railway. The line is divided in to two "regions" for better administrative control. The regions are headquartered at Ratnagiri and Karwar. The jurisdiction of Ratnagiri region is from Roha (exclusive) to Sawantwadi Road (inclusive). The jurisdiction of Karwar region is from Sawantwadi Road (exclusive) to Thokur (inclusive).

Passenger services in this route started in late 1997 with one express train from Mangalore to Madgaon (0021/0022), and one DMU service running from Karwar to Pernem. This DMU was extended to Ratnagiri (As KAR1/2) in January 1998. The 0111/2 Mumbai CST-Sawantwadi Road Konkankanya Express was extended to Madgaon with effect from January 25, 1998. This was the first train from Mumbai to Goa via the new route. The Mumbai-Ernakulam Netravati Express (Then number 6635/36; now 6345/46 with extension to Thiruvananthapuram) was re-routed via Konkan Railway w.e.f. March 21, 1998. The Nizamuddin-Trivandrum Rajdhani Express was re-routed via Konkan Railway on April 02, 1998.

The Nizamuddin-Mangalore Mangala Express was then re-routed via Konkan railway w.e.f August 01, 1998 with extension to Ernakulam. The Diva-Sawantwadi Passenger train (KR5/6) was introduced on April 05, 1999. Mumbai-Madgaon Mandovi Express was introduced on June 07, 1999. The fastest train on Konkan Railway - Dadar Madgaon Jan Shatabdi was introduced on April 16, 2002. This train revolutionised train travel for many people hailing from Konkan area of Maharashtra. They were now able to go to their destination along the coast, and get back to Mumbai on the same day!

Today, the Konkan Railway section handles about 5 pairs of daily express trains, 5 pairs of daily passenger trains, 1 pair of Jan Shatabdhi Express, 1 Rajdhani express, and about 8 pairs of non-daily trains. Konkan Railways were the first in the world to introduce "Ro-Ro" trains. Ro-Ro is an innovative concept of carrying loaded trucks on flat bed wagons. The service is available from Kolad (Near Roha in Maharashtra) to Verna (Goa) and Surathkal (Near Mangalore, Karnataka). This service helps in better fuel conservation and thereby reducing pollution. Truck operators are guaranteed timely arrival at their destination, and the wear-and-tear of trucks are reduced! The operators also escape the tough ghat section, thereby enhancing safety!

The Monsoon trouble...

The Konkan Railway passes through a very seismologically active area. The section is prone to earthquakes. The area recieves very strong rainfall, and incidences of land slides are common on KR. Water Inundation is another major hurdle that KR faces during monsoons. Since KR has many sharp rock cuttings, incidences of rocks falling on the tracks too have been reported.

The first major black mark on the operational safety of Konkan Railway occured on June 21,2003. A holiday special (Train Number 904 - proceeding from Karwar (in Karnataka) to Mumbai Central) met with an accident between Vaibhavwadi and Rajapur Road stations. A landslide had reportedly occured at the entrance of a tunnel. The train collided with the fallen mass, and resulted in a derailment. The accident caused death of about 51 passengers, and about 10 others were seriously injured. A statutory inquiry revealed that there was a failure in the slope of a cutting, which caused the landslide. Heavy patrolling, and speed restrictions were imposed.

About a year later, on June 16, 2004, another land slide occured - this time between Veer and Karanjadi stations. A boulder fell on the tracks leading to Ambivali Viaduct. The Mangalore-Mumbai Matsyagandha Express derailed after the locomotive hit the boulder and the locomotive nosedived into the water stream below. This caused death of about 15 passengers, and about 100 others were injured. An inquiry put the reason as an "Act of God". A speed restriction of 75kmph was immediately imposed on the route.

Konkan Railways introduced the "Rakshadhaga", which is a device which can set off an alarm in case of a land slide. In 2005, The railways decided to impose a "Monsoon Timetable" for trains running on KR. Speeds were reduced to 75kmph, and this resulted in about 2-4hours of extra running time for most trains - but in the view of safety, this was accepted by one and all! Today, the KR has two sets of timetables: The Monsoon Timetable (from June 15 to October 31) and the Regular Timetable (From November 01 to June 14).

Disclaimer | Page last modified on April 06, 2008 | ©2006-08 Binai Kochunni Sankar
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