Thursday, December 17, 2015

Konkan Railway-Connecting India on western front

I traveled in Konkan railway only recently. It passes through my native, I was going to school when this project was started. When we went to Madhya Pradesh in 2007 we had to take a much longer train route from Mangaluru that went via Coimbatore, Erode, Andhra Pradesh etc. Today Mangaluru is connected to Mumbai (and subsequently North India) via rail on the western front, saving heavily on travel time.
Few highlights of Konkan Railways
  • Lots and lots of tunnels all along the way
  • Crosses several rivers
  • Very scenic western ghat on one side
  • Arabian sea on the other (Not visible from train though)
  • Was supposed to make travel easy and convenient to local people who gave their land to the project and create employment.
For various reasons, I never had a chance to travel on Konkan railway route all these days. I have only received relatives from station, sent my father on it, but never got to travel myself all these days. Most important reason being for us it is unfortunately not the most convenient/economic option. This month I traveled on it from Madgaon to Kundapura. From what I observed, below are some reasons why it is not helping local people in Udupi district.

Railway stations are very far from city centre- at least 5-6kms or more. This means lots of money spent on autos. For example, Madgaon to Kundapura is just Rs 75 in passenger train (about 200+kms) but you will have to spend 70 Rs to get to the highway in Kundapura from Kundapura railway station. Same amount needs to be spent in Madgaon. Kumta is the only station where railway station is very close to bus station/town. In all other town, expenditure on taxi/auto nullifies any cost savings train journey may offer.

Second most factor is availability of frequent buses in the region. People are very used to express buses- which are tad expensive compared to train on a per km fare basis, but buses are many in number- they are frequent, fast and convenient. So people haven’t felt any need to depend on railways- which are just a few per day.

There is a train from Karwar to Bengaluru- but it takes so much time (about 18 hours)- twice what it takes by bus, so it is not practical for those who value time. (In a bus you can leave by 7 or 8PM and reach BLR by 7 AM. For train you need to board by 2.30 PM and you will reach only by 8.30 AM.

Still Konkan railway is useful for long distance travel to North India- if you manage to get a seat that is.

The journey was nice and comfortable- lots of tunnels- some are few kms long and last a minute or two in a speeding train, lots of rivers and bridges- December is not the best time to see western ghats, so greenery was not at its best though. Konkan Railway is single track in most of the places- which means train from one direction need to wait for the train from other direction to pass through.

Konkan Railway has a unique Truck on Rail program called RORO- I have written about it here.


rupam sarma said...

Nice to read your post, Beautiful pics.
Thanks for sharing.

Vasudha Hande said...


ayushi jhawar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Vasudha and Rupam