Mangaluru, March 17, 2020: Notwithstanding the enormous delay in completing the Kulashekara tunnel work on the Mangaluru Junction-Jokatte section of the Mangaluru-Mumbai railway line, Southern Railway is confident of completing the entire doubling project of Mangaluru Junction-Panambur by March next.
The then Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had announced doubling of the railway line between Ullal and Surathkal in the 2014 Railway Budget, including the additional tunnel at Kulashekara. The tunnel passes beneath the Mangaluru-Moodbidri National Highway and has been a major link to New Mangalore Port as well as industrial clusters around Baikampady, besides accommodating the Mumbai line.
The construction wing of Southern Railway is executing the line doubling project between Mangaluru Junction and Panambur. Its chief engineer, P.T. Benny, said there was a delay earlier because of the slow execution of work by the contractor, who had deployed incompetent personnel. With a new contractor in place, the tunnel work is going on swiftly, Mr. Benny told The Hindu, adding that the tunnel excavation would itself be over in another four months.
SR’s Palakkad Division has already commissioned 17 km of double line out of 21 km between Mangaluru Junction and Panambur. The remaining 4 km includes the 600-metre tunnel work and its connecting links, and SR has announced that the entire double line will be commissioned by March 2021. The double line is expected to drastically reduce the time taken for operation of trains on the Mumbai-Mangaluru as well as Mumbai-Hassan/Bengaluru sectors.
Asked whether the conventional method of tunnel extraction could ensure its speedy completion, Mr. Benny replied in the affirmative and said the adopted method was best suited for the site. The region is full of rocks as well as underground streams, posing a challenge for construction.
Work on clearing debris and stabilising slopes too is going on simultaneously.