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History of KR
Nov 01 2012 (2:13PM)
Blog Post# 568910-0
▅ ▆ ▇ █★KR ♥ Lover ♥ Forever★█ ▇ ▆ ▅~ Added by: SBC TVC Exp via HSRA*^~ Nov 08 2012 (3:07PM)
History of Konkan Railway
Pics of first journey through KR will post in some while
Bahut mehenat lagi hai post karneme
The Konkan Railway is undoubtedly the most expansive and biggest infrastructure project the country has undertaken (and completed ) since independence. Doing wonders to the connectivity of the western coast of India and the rest of the country, this epic undertaking is unparalleled in the history of the country. The Konkan Railway connects primarily Mangalore and the rest of the Konkan or Karavalli Coast and secondarily the entire state of Kerala in a point-to-point straight line to Mumbai and beyond to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi etc. The Konkan Railway spans 738 km starting from just after Roha Railway Station (75 km from Panvel in the suburbs of Mumbai) in Maharashtra to after Thokur Railway station in southern Karnataka at the junction with the line from the Panambur yard just before Mangalore, passing through the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka and immensely benefiting Kerala. The line passes through some of the greatest scenic spots in this part of the World.
Volumes have already been written about the Konkan Railway and the stunning, undulating and breath-taking scenic beauty it offers to travelers all along the way. It must rank among one of those “must-see-paces-before-you-die” along with such natural wonders as the Southern coast of Spain, the Bahamas, the Amazon rain forests, the Fiords of Norway, the Alps of Switzerland, the Mediterranean and so on. The western coast of India is rich in scenic beauty from Kanyakumari in the south, the entire state of Kerala, the spellbinding and unexplored Karavalli coastlines of Karnataka which include spots like Gokarna and Maravanthe, the entire state of Goa whose natural abundance is already well-known and the ruggedly beautiful coasts of Maharashtra. The coast is wedged between the Arabian sea and the majestic Western Ghats which immediately rise after the coast, which trap the South West Monsoon and force it to pound the coast every year. The incomparable natural beauty of the coast can be attributed to this.
Background of Konkan Railway:-
The Konkan Railway was the last missing link to a complete Indian Railway map. Before KR, the missing rail line on half of India’s west coast stood out as a gaping hole on the map looking like a missing a line of support or reinforcement on the left flank of the peninsula. Our railway lines act, metaphorically, as beams and pillars of support holding the country together and this gap was definitely a weakness which had to be fixed, and fast. More practically, there was no sensible connectivity between the two great ports of Mangalore and Mumbai! People who had to go from Mangalore or Kerala to Mumbai or beyond to Gujarat those days were forced to go on a circuitous South India darshan taking the Salem-Bangalore-(Dharwad-Belgaum)/(Gulbarga-Solapu r)-Pune or Salem-Jolarpettai-Tirupati-Raichur-Daund-Pune routes ending up traveling 2200 km spending 3-4 days in place of 930 km and 17 hours today with KR. It would not be comical to say that people had to go from Mangalore to Mumbai via Chennai! Another more popular option was to get to Birur, Kadur, Arsikere or even Bangalore by (non-existent) road through the Malnad jungle and then board a train from there to Mumbai. If you are thinking “Why didn’t they take the road?”, there were no roads then either. The NH-17 (NH-66) which runs along the west coast from Ernakulam to Panvel also known as the Mumbai – Goa road on that stretch and carries all the traffic of the west coast was built only during the mid 1970s. A continuous motorable road simply did not exist before that. So how did people from Mangalore get to Mumbai? Yes, by ship! And Mumbai has a big settlement of Karavalli people as we all know.
History of Konkan Railway:-
The history of the Konkan Railway goes as back as 1907, when railway lines reached Mangalore as the terminus of the main line from Madras via Palakkad. The idea of extending the line along the coast to Bombay was of course examined by the British but they disregarded it as “impossible to construct” given the undulating, rugged, violent and unpredictable terrain of the Konkan coast. In addition to that, there weren’t any important ports along the line, the area was sparsely populated and they would encounter diplomatic difficulties as the line would have to pass through the then (hostile) Portuguese enclave of Goa. The idea was mooted by many since then but always put in the cold storage, though everyone knew that the line would have to be constructed eventually. As Mumbai grew, a line was laid from Diva to Panvel in 1964 and later extended to Apta in 1966. In 1964 itself, seeing the potential for a line south of Apta, the then railway minister Panampilli Govinda Menon suggested the idea of extending it southwards for a “western coastal railway”. His suggestion was largely ignored then but not forgotten. Demands for a West Coast line would also be continuously raised by Barrister Nath Pai MP, parliamentarian and freedom fighter who hailed form Vengurla on the southern end of the Maharashtra Konkan, who actively voiced the concerns of the region. The project is thought to be his brainchild.
The idea was revived by Prof. Madhu Dantavate when he became Railway Minister in 1977 . Even though not sanctioned yet, some surveys were undertaken for the line in the 1970s especially for stretches between Mangalore and Madgaon. In 1984, Prof. Dantavate sanctioned a line from Apta to Roha (opened in 1986) which would become the starting point for the Konkan Railway, though that was not the intention then. But in 1984 itself, IR decided to build a line from Mangalore to Madgaon – the “easier” stretch. Southern Railway was entrusted to carry out an in-depth survey for this. In March 1985, it was decided to extend the line for the entire stretch of the West Coast till Roha where it would connect to the existing line. The final survey report was completed in 1988 and SR called it the “Konkan Railway” for the first time. The project finally got legs when Mr.George Fernandes became RM in 1989. Hailing from Udupi on the Konkan Coast, he had a passionate desire to see the project through and had a fairly good idea about what he faced. As the project needed heavy funding, it was decided to establish an independent company outside the scope of the Indian Railways. Konkan Railways Corporation Ltd. was hence founded in 1990 with E.Sreedharan as CMD. History was to be made in 8 years. Work started from both ends at the same time.
Building of Konkan Railway:-
Sreedharan & Co. must have gotten the jitters when it became clear to them what was the kind of terrain they were dealing with. The geography was extremely tough and unforgiving with steep cliffs, deep gorges, uneven grassy and rocky plateaus, swampy marshes, thick jungle, broad rivers, wet hills and so on, especially in Maharashtra where the Western Ghats reach directly to the sea. The geography changed every few kilometers and the builders had to cut through hard volcanic rock, soft and wet clay, tropical jungle, wet clay and loose sand. Adding to this was the wild fury of nature with violent monsoons and tropical thunderstorms causing cave-ins, landslides, flash floods and what not. Tunnel cave-ins, water gushes, hill collapses and many more disasters marred the construction.
The line was to be designed to enable trains to run at 160 kmph, which meant the track should be level with gradients (inclines) and curves should be kept to a minimum for trains to maintain speed. The only way for this to be achieved was to build the line straight through despite the undulating nature of the terrain. This would mean tunnels, embankments, rock and earth cut down (like this) to allow the track to maintain its level run. 91 tunnels were dug, the longest at 5.6 kilometers. All the rivers and streams resulted in 2000 bridges. Tunnel digging equipment was imported from Sweden to dig many of these tunnels. But the real challenge were nine tunnels which had to be dug through wet, soft and loose clayey soil, which the equipment could not tackle and had to be painstakingly dug by hand, meter by meter. Some of these tunnels would cave in as soon as they were dug and they had to be dug all over again. Work had to be entirely stopped on many occassions due to violent monsoons and the alignment was changed numerous times. The unflappable team pushed forward without losing heart even when faced with criticism and skepticism from all around. Work would continue day and night with efficiency reminding those of the British times and the entire stretch, tunnels and all was ready in phases from 1993 to 1998, in just 8 years! What a triumph!
The train service on Konkan Railway:-
As expected, the first stretch to be completed was the Thokur – Udupi stretch in the south on March 1993, followed by the Roha – Veer stretch in the north on June 1993. Incidentally, both these stretches were 47 km long! The first train to run on the Konkan railway was a Mangalore – Udupi passenger train on March 20, 1993. Lines from both ends reached the Pernem tunnel in North Goa (also the boundary between Maharashtra and Goa) in 1997, which was the last remaining bottleneck in the project and a formidable one at that. The construction on this tunnel had started in 1992 but 5 years later was yet to be completed. It was to be dug through a clay-hill prone to water-logging and would cave in and flood repeatedly without warning. This 1.5 km stretch held the entire 738 km project to ransom for more than a year and was the biggest frustration for the builders and the rest of the country. In the end, it took 6 years and 11 lives to complete it. By then, services had started