More brickbats than bouquets were showered when Ms Sujatha Jayaraj, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Southern Railways –Salem Division agreed for a face2face interaction with the industrialists here.

She was here to speak on ‘Vision for Coimbatore Railways' with reference to issues related to railway infrastructure facilities and future developmental projects and schemes to be implemented for the Coimbatore region.

The meeting was organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore.

Responding to the issues and concerns voiced by the ICCIC President, Mr G. Krishnan, local member of Parliament, Mr P.R. Natarajan and others, Ms Jayaraj reiterated that railways belonged to the public and therefore every citizen owed an equal responsibility towards the Railways.

Reverting to the newly formed Salem division, she said, “the division's current year earnings is at least 15 per cent more as compared with the earlier year. Notwithstanding the growth in earnings, the expenditure also zoomed due to the hike in pay package, increase in HSD and oil charges among others. For every Rs 100 that we earn, we expend Rs 150,” she said.

Coimbatore, she pointed out was the focus of the Salem division, as the station here was categorised as A1, based on earnings, which stood at Rs 66 crore/year.

Funds constraint

While conceding to the funds constraints, as the capital requirement would depend on the budget allocation by the Centre, she told Business Line that the annual plan expenditure (Salem Division) was Rs 66 crore and the revenue expenditure around Rs 735 crore.

She assured the audience that a sea change in the Coimbatore junction would be visible within the next six-eight months. “Subways would be in place and we are planning two escalators and lifts. Contracts have been finalised for these works,” she added.

There is demand for more retirement rooms. “We are proposing an air-conditioned dormitory,” she said on improvement of amenities.

Reverting to the cramped and inadequate parking space, she said, “We require more land for expanding the parking facility.

To a request on stopping of trains passing through Coimbatore, she said “we have referred this to the Board. The Railway Timetable Committee has to approve.'

She observed that despite its emergence as a manufacturing hub, there was no outward booking of freight from Coimbatore. Urging the entrepreneurs to use the container terminal in Irugur, she said ‘the return from this terminal has been inadequate.'

The Chamber, has in its representation reiterated its demand for an overnight express train between Coimbatore and Bangalore, between Coimbatore and Rameshwaram and for increasing the frequency of trains between this city and Mettupalayam among other request for improving passenger amenities.

lnr@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 19, 2012)
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