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Expectations soar ahead of rail budget

Though Andhra Pradesh getting a new railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters is now a certainty, the people of north Andhra region are eagerly awaiting an official announcement on the formation of the new zone in the Railway Budget.

The functioning of the new zone could take quite sometime even after the Union Cabinet gives the green signal. But, once the new zone is officially declared, the process would begin with fixation of the boundaries, appointment of an Officer-on-Special Duty (OSD) and setting up a project office for executing the construction of various offices.

The Waltair Division of East Coast Railway (ECoR), which is among the top five Divisions in the country, was sanctioned Rs.695 crore in the 2015-16 railway budget for undertaking various development works. This was, perhaps, the first time that such a huge amount was allocated to the Division.

The works sanctioned to Waltair Division include: construction of a wagon workshop (Periodic Over Haul) at Vadlapudi in the city with Rs.214 crore, augmentation of the capacities of the Diesel Loco Shed (DLS) in the city at an estimated cost of Rs.53.14 crore and Electric Loco Shed (ELS) with Rs.19.57 crore, Rs. 239 crore for track renewal works and Rs. 44.68 crore for the closure of unmanned level crossings.

The Wagon POH will ensure proper utilisation of railway assets and prevent empty running of wagons as Visakhapatnam is the wagon-generating point.

The POH and augmentation of ELS and DLS facilities will help in improving the freight handling capacity and meeting the planned growth in cargo handling by the two Ports in Visakhapatnam.

Unfortunately, though the financial year 2015-16 is drawing to a close, the wagon POH is said to be still at the planning stage and most of the other works are yet to be grounded.

New proposals

During the course of the present financial year, the Railway Ministry, on the demand of MPs from the region, had agreed to introduce a Double Decker express train between Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada and originating express trains from Visakhapatnam to Tirupati, Chennai and Bengaluru. There are also long-pending demand for construction of four additional platforms, for which the survey was already done in the past, at Visakhapatnam Railway Station.

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