Changanassery: With the ongoing track doubling works in the section and the construction of the multi-functional complex nearing completion, Changanassery is poised to become the largest railway station in Kottayam district.

The foundation stone for the modern railway station building at Changanassery was laid by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu two years ago.

The terminal facilities at Changanassery and Chingavanom railway stations have been renovated as part of the gauge conversion project.

Upon the completion of the work on increasing the length of platforms to hold more coaches, Changanassery will become the largest railway station in Kottayam district. The parking facility at the complex, which is located about 200 meters south of the existing station, will also be the largest in the state in terms of capacity. Car parking slots will also be set up within the premises of the new facility which is located at a distance of about 40 meters from the bypass road

Five modern reservation counters, VIP lounge, station room, accountant’s office, restroom, storeroom, current ticket issuing counter, queue area, first/second class ladies’ waiting rooms, washrooms with facilities for elderly and differently-abled persons, information counter, telephone booth, cabin for chief booking supervisor, ticket-vending machines, touchscreen kiosks, dedicated counters for persons with special needs, and purified drinking water system will be among the facilities available in the new railway complex which epitomizes the traditional building design technique of Kerala.

The state-of-the-art building will have three platforms with giant overhead roofs that can accommodate 26 bogies each at a time. A foot-over-bridge too is built, equipped with lifts and escalators for easy movement of passengers from one end to the other.

The terminal will have a new entrance with compound walls and a separate facility for parcel service as well.

The construction works of the new building commenced in June 2015, will be completed by June 2017. Only flooring and painting works remain, an official said.

Once the new complex becomes operational, the renovation of the old building will be taken up. The section engineer’s room, RPF outpost, battery room, switch room, and the station master’s office will be shifted to the old office.

The area adjoining the entrance to the existing building will not be fenced off or closed down as it will be used as a parking slot, officials informed.

The proposal for a modern railway station building at Changanassery was approved by the UPA government in 2009. Kodikunnil Suresh MP was instrumental in getting the project sanctioned.

The doubling works will come to an end with the statutory inspection to be conducted by the Railway Safety Commissioner on March 17.

Ahead of the scheduled inspection of the high-level team, the authorities have taken up cleaning and decorations of the railway station and its premises. The renovation of the old building is under way and a tarred road to the station will be ready for the inauguration of the complex, officials said.

Future challenges

A portion of the 80-cent land situated along the 40-meter stretch between the new building and the bypass is under the possession of the Housing Board, while the remaining land is owned by private parties. The southern railway owns only a three-meter-wide stretch leading to the newly-built entrance.

Taking into account the future needs, railway authorities should consider the acquisition of the 80-cent plot to take care of the construction requirements and to avoid bottlenecks. If new buildings come up on the private land in front of the station, it would hamper smooth flow of vehicles on the stretch.

Demands to establish a transport mobility hub in the area have also gathered a momentum of late.

Currently, the parking lot at the station has the capacity to accommodate around 50 cars a day. With systematic planning, the numbers could be increased to 150 cars and 300 two-wheelers at a time once the new parking facility becomes ready. If this happens, Changanassery railway station will have the largest parking facility in the entire state.

Double the benefits

The doubling of the busy stretch passing through Kottayam would immensely benefit the commuters as well as railway stations in the district.

First and foremost, it will help reduce delays for crossing. Only those trains heading from south to Kottayam will face detention for crossing at Changanassery.

Once the doubling works get over, no longer the services from Kottayam towards south have to wait at Chingavanom.

Moreover, the trains operating on this route will be able to run at a maximum speed of 100 kmph. Congestion will be eased and the all the services including passenger trains will be able to stick to the timetable.

Another major advantage is that the terminals in Changanassery and Chingavanom will get an island platform, a station layout arrangement where a single platform is positioned between two tracks within a railway station.

The island platform layout is an important aspect in the modernization initiatives being undertaken by Indian Railways. It helps trains operating on tracks situated close to entry and exit gates stop and proceed quickly. At present, trains calling at small stations are forced to depend on loop lines to load or unload passengers, resulting in a delay of 10-15 minutes in their schedule.

Four new platforms will become fully operational at the Changanassery station once the track doubling in Changanassery-Chengannur corridor gets over. There are railway stations in Kottayam having four tracks, but none of them have four platforms that are fully functional.

Under the new system, platform 3 at the Changanassery station will accommodate trains heading towards Thiruvalla, while trains towards Kottayam will be arriving at platform 1 and 2.

Goods trains will be received at platform 4. By enhancing the profile of the yard, the authorities are eyeing more revenues from the freight segment.