Thursday, March 08, 2007

Trivandrum Central heads for a make-over

One of my first truely amazing experiences as a child was my first visit to the railway station. Later I was to learn that the noisy, busy place with its hustle and bustle and the hooting locomotives, and strange announcements was called Trivandrum Central. It was then, still is and will continue to be the largest and busiest station in Kerala and the second most important station in the Southern Railway, after Chennai.

In those days before "budget" air travel and company-paid fly backs, Trivandrum Central used to be the starting point of many a wonderful journey across the length and breadth of India. As a young boy, traveling to the next town or state was like traveling to a whole new world. Lol, atleast I loved thinking that it was! Nonetheless, trips to Bombay, Ooty, Bangalore and what not started off here, and were wondrous experiences.

It also helped that I am crazy about trains. Steam engines are supposed to be what attracts most people about railways with their fairy-tale qualities and almost anthropomorphic personalities, I have never had the luck to see and hear a steam locomotive, except for that famous dwarf version on the way down from Ooty many a year ago. But, trains still attract me a lot. I have always been fascinated by machines, and they don't get much bigger, more powerful or louder than a big diesel-electric loco pulling a looong train. Yeap, there are jet aircraft and rockets which are sexier, but one is not exactly likely to see them often, despite the fact that India's fifth biggest airport and its spaceport were right next door.

The crowds at the station, with their immense diversity and always on the move, never cease to fascinate me. Two hundred thousand people use the station daily now and fifty trains come and go on average. The chugging diesels, belching black smoke as they laboured to pull their twenty coach burdens away and ear-splitting air horns send a tingle down my spine even today, not to mention when I was still being towed around by my parents.

The last time I was at Trivandrum Central, about a month ago, I was amazed at the transformation the station had undergone in the last year or so. After having done a pilgrimage of almost all airports in India in the last couple of years or so, I had thought railways stations would be a rude shock. Boy, was I impressed. Plasma display panels, real time train status indicators, LED coach position displays and a plush, A/C waiting room, not to mention a spanking new parking lot and yes, e-ticketing! I was half expecting a sleek jet aircraft to pull upto the platform instead of the Guruvayoor Express!

Yes, it seems a certain Mr. Yadav has been putting money where his mouth is, in between delivering lectures to smarty-pants B-school grads who used to pretend to know where Bihar was on the map. The cleanliness of the station and the expansive new multi-cuisine food plaza were all impressive. Of course, Trivandrum Central has been perhaps the cleanest station I have seen during my extensive tramping across the Indian rail network, but what I saw recently was a step change.

However things are all set to get even better! In December 2006, the same Mr. Yadav laid the foundation stone for the upgradation of Trivandrum Central to "world class" standards. It is among 18 major stations in the country and the only one in the State to be chosen for this. Now, "world class" is a term thrown loosely around, but more details have emerged in recent days in the media as to what the Railways plan to do with their main station in the State. You can read the details by clicking on the blog title or by going here.

After going through the proposals and earlier ones pertaining to facilities being added to Trivandrum Central, here is my $ 0.02 on what the station will be like in 2010:

- A one million sft terminal building will come up along the South side of the existing station yard. This will replace the "Coach Care" unit and the current Second entrance complex.
- Given the layout and space constraints of the yard, the terminal may need to be "single-ended" like that at Chennai Central in which trains arrive into it from one and reverse out.
- There would be two levels for platforms and tracks. One level would handle arriving trains and the others would handle departing trains. Whichever few trains do not terminate at Trivandrum Central could be handled on either level or at a different set of platforms.
- There will also be new platforms for Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMUs) which will run as a suburban service for the Trivandrum Capital Region, from Varkala to Neyyatinkara.
- Other facilities like waiting rooms, restaurants, offices and so on will be situated on the third and fourth floors of the station. The entire complex will utilize escalators and lifts for vertical movement of people.
- A budget business class hotel built and run by a top-class chain will be part of the Station complex. Tenders are already being invited for the same for major stations across India.
- A multi-level vehicle parking facility will be integrated to accommodate the ever increasing volume of vehicles parked by commuters and long distance travelers.
- A major shopping and commercial complex may also be integrated into the station to provide supplementary revenue to the BOT operator of the Station.
- This would be preceded by the shifting of the Coach Care facility to Nemom. A suburban rail terminal could also be set up at Nemom; another possible but relatively unlikely location is Putharikandom.

The expansion of the station may require some additional land to be acquired in addition to the land currently being used for the Coach Care facility as well as some other railway buildings adjoining the Power House.

The fact that the Power House Road is being widened as part of CRDP and that a flyover will soon be constructed over M.G. Road, from Thakaraparambu to land right in front of the proposed new Station building will be tie in nicely with this proposal. It will ensure that there is adequate traffic flow capacity to cater to the tens of thousands of people who pass through the Station each day, with a direct link to the Intermediate Ring Road.

Hope to hear more details about this exciting project soon. Stay tuned!

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A satellite image of Trivandrum Central with the site of the new Terminal complex outline in Red


  1. Kool blog! Had got the link few days back. Was bzy reading th previous posts! Eventhough the blog presents the developments around Tvm in a very rosy way, i found a few things happening in Tvm that i hadn't heard of! Also the lack of activity in some areas is a bad image! Anyone walking or driving through Bakery now can see no work and a demolition site! In place of a beautiful roundabout that it was!

    Good work! Looking frwd to more posts! Gr8 to see that u are in touch with what's happening in Tvm wthout physically being present here all the time!

  2. Great News and hope this will start soon and become a part of IR's continuing progress.
    Though me also thinks that the airport mentioned could also well turn into the busiest in the vicinity provided the new terminal is completed in time and more new airlnes are allowed to operate too


Thanks for your comment, I will take a look at it and put it up at the earliest.