JANUARY 26 saw the start of through passenger services between Mumbai and Mangao, marking the formal completion of India’s Konkan Railway. Launched in 1989, the 760 km coastal corridor serving the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kuerla has been built by the autonomous Konkan Railway Corp using a mix of public and private sector funding. The line has been opened in stages over the past three years, but final completion was delayed by political and geological problems in the state of Goa, lifting the total cost from Rs18bn to Rs33·5bn.

The 1·5 km Pernem tunnel was accepted for traffic on January 9, finishing the link between Pernem in Goa and Sawabtwadi in Maharashtra. Train speeds on several sections are currently limited to 30 or 60 km/h, but will be lifted to 100 km/h following consolidation of the new embankments.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Acting Managing Director B Rajaram described passenger and freight demand as ’overwhelming’, and forecast that traffic would exceed the design capacity within two years. He said KRC was already starting a programme of capacity expansion, which could eventually see the line double-tracked throughout. o