The city is likely to get its first diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) train in April, along with the resumption of passenger train services to the Harbour Terminus (HT) station in Willingdon Island.
DEMU will complement the mainline electric multiple unit (MEMU) train, which currently links Kochi with suburban towns. “MEMU will continue to be operated, while the route for DEMU will be finalised in March based on passenger demand from the suburbs. For now, DEMU service is expected to call at the renovated HT station in its morning and evening trips when there is scarce berthing space at the Ernakulam Junction railway station,” a senior Railway official said.
A passenger train that can shift to diesel engine will call at HT in the unlikely case of a DEMU rake not being available in April. On whether MEMU and the expected DEMU will lay the foundation for the commencement of suburban services in Kochi, he said full-fledged suburban services could be started only when a dedicated track was ready. Else, such short-distance trains will further slow down express trains that run below average speed in Kerala, the official added.
Meanwhile, a diesel engine is scheduled to conduct a trial run between the city and the Cochin Goods Yard in Willingdon Island in a day or two, prior to the arrival of a train-load of tracks to link the yard with HT, which is being renovated. The trial run attains significance since rail alignment in the goods yard sector was refixed recently.
Subsequently, a train carrying 110-metre-long tracks to be laid in the 2-km-long route up to HT will arrive at the yard. Track laying will be completed by the end of March, so that trains can be run to HT from April. The station building and platform at HT too are being renovated and tidied.
Amenities such as dedicated parking space and food joints will be made available depending on passenger demand.
The renovated station is expected to reduce waiting time for trains at the Ernakulam Junction station, for want of track/platform, during peak hours. It will also help commuters from West Kochi do away with the task of travelling through congested roads to reach the Ernakulam Junction station.