MEMU sheds getting ready in Kollam
MEMU – Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit refers to cars used for suburban train services which have multiple prime movers [electric motors] for each car. i.e., the same car that carries passengers also has the motive power, as opposed to the normal situation where the passengers are in coaches that are not self propelling and a locomotive hauls the train.
The maintenance sheds for the suburban Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) train services in the State are nearing completion in Kollam. The onus is now on the Railways to take a policy decision to allocate rakes and commence services.
Most of the work on the foundation for the shed and other facilities had been completed in Kollam. It is for the Railway Board to take a decision on using the existing tracks and allocating rakes. The board should also decide on whether to replace the passenger trains with MEMU and other associated modalities.
The Railways had been insisting on two dedicated lines for operating MEMU services. But, the delay in acquiring land had forced the Railways to do a rethink. According to the Railways, MEMU services need high-level platforms and cannot be mixed with other services.
Network saturation is another obstacle if the Railways decide on using the existing lines for MEMU services. The Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam section is 120 per cent saturated, Ernakulam-Kayamkulam (via Alappuzha) 140 per cent, and (via Kottayam) 160 per cent. The Ernakulam-Thrissur section is saturated by 118 per cent.
Railway sources says commuters will not benefit fully if MEMU services are run on the existing lines. “The frequency will be less as long-distance mail and express trains will also have to be accommodated. There will not be much benefit for the short-distance commuters”.
Divisional Railway Manager Rajiv Dutt Sharma said, “We will start MEMU services on a trial basis replacing the passenger trains that has maximum patronage. In two to three years, all passenger trains in the Thiruvananthapuram railway division will be replaced by MEMU services”. The Divisional Manager said the maintenance shed in Kollam could handle 12 rakes. MEMU trains of nine cars can carry 3,000 passengers at a time and seating will be as in suburban trains. Each train can run 200 km at a stretch.
The latest timetable says, the MEMU service operates on all days except Sundays. The train starts from Kollam at 10.05 a.m. and reaches Ernakulam at 2.20 p.m. While returning, it starts from Ernakulam at 2.45 p.m. and reaches Kollam at 6.40 p.m.