The Konkan Railways is the most beautiful and stunning railway routes in India and connects India’s western coast with the rest of the country. The Konkan Railway lines span 738 km through the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. It passes through some of the most scenic spots. This route goes through the beautiful Western Ghats and has numerous tunnels and bridges with hundreds of streams and rivers.
During monsoon, it is often easy to see streams of water flowing over rocks near the tracks. One can also see clouds floating at the level of the train, making the journey more heavenly. It is a visual treat to travel by this route.
The most scenic section of this train route that connects New Delhi to Goa is the coastal section between Goa and the Londa in Karnataka. Goa Express train winds through hills and forests, passing peaks and valleys of the Western Ghats. But the undisputed highlight of this trip is when passengers get to see the long silvery cascade of Dudhsagar Falls. This fall is best viewed on Goa’s outbound journey to Delhi when the waterfall is visible in clear daylight.
The running water from the height makes it look like milk is flowing through the mountains, and that’s why it is called Dudhsagar. All other unnecessary thoughts on the mind vanish with the strong currents and sound of water rushing. A drizzle from the water stream on your face can make all the chaos of life seem trivial.
Background of the Konkan Railway
Konkan coast of India did not have a railway link connecting coastal cities, towns and villages. Even the British, who ruled India until 15th August 1947, did not build a railway line along this route. The first proposal was given in 1920. In 1957 an aerial survey has been conducted in Dasgaon, Raigad in Maharashtra and Mangalore to study the possibilities of railway development in this region.
People who wanted to go from Kerala or Mangalore to Goa, out of Gujarat or Mumbai those days were required to go on a roundabout South India darshan through the Salem-Bangalore-(Gulbarga-Solapur)/(Dharwad-Belgaum)-Salem or Pune-Jolarpettai-Tirupati-Raichur-Daund-Pune rail routes. This journey ended up visiting 2200 km and spending 3-4 days instead of 930 km and 17 hours today through the Konkan Railway.
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History of the Konkan Railway
In 1907 when Konkan railway lines reached Mangalore as the terminus of the mainline via Shoranur from Madras. The idea of extending the railway line along the Konkan coast to Mumbai was examined by the British, but they neglected it as “impossible to construct” given the rugged, violent, unpredictable, and undulating terrain of the region.
The idea was considered by many since then but always put in cold storage, though everyone knew that the Konkan line would have to be built eventually. After 1947 and as Mumbai grew, a railway line was laid in 1964 from Diva to Panvel and later extended in 1966 from south to Apta. In 1964 itself, the then railway minister Sri Panampilli Govinda Menon suggested the idea of extending the line southwards for a “western coastal railway”. His idea was ignored then but not forgotten.
Demands for a West Coastline was also continuously raised by Barrister Nath Pai MP, parliamentarian and freedom fighter who hailed from Vengurla on the southern end of the Maharashtra Konkan.
In 1988 when the final survey report was completed and Southern Railway called it the “Konkan Railway” for the first time. The Konkan railway project finally got legs when Mr George Fernandes became Railway Minister in 1989. As the project needed a large amount of funding and the train route was of national importance, then it was decided to establish an independent company for the construction and management of the new railway line outside the scope of the Ministry of Railways. In 1990 Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. was hence founded with E.Sreedharan as CMD and work started from both ends of the Konkan railway line at the same time.
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Train Services on Konkan Railways
The first stretch of the line to be completed was the Thokur-Udupi stretch in the south in March 1993, followed by the Roha-Veer stretch in June 1993 in the north. Both these stretches were 47 km long.
The first rail to run on the Konkan railway was a Mangalore–Udupi passenger train on 20th March 1993. Railway lines from both ends reached the Pernem tunnel in North Goa in 1997. The construction of this tunnel had started in 1992 and after 6 years with the completion of the Pernem tunnel the first train (0111 Mumbai CST – Madgaon Express) to run from Mumbai to Madgaon finally bridging the gap between Maharashtra and Goa. Today’s this train is known as Konkan Kanya Express. The train was started on 25th January 1998 from Mumbai and arrived at Madgaon station the next day.
On 1st March 1998, the first scheduled service that ran from the Cochin Netravati (Cochin – Kurla)/Bombay Kurla (LTT) – Mangalore Express which used to run via Palakkad – K.R. Puram (Bangalore) – Gulbarga – Dharmavaram – Pune started running through the Konkan railway. Subsequently, all rails to Gujarat from Kerala were diverted through the Konkan and many new ones were launched. Some of the latest introductions on the Konkan Railway are the Ernakulam – Nizamuddin Duronto, the Kochuveli – LTT Garib Rath, the Madgaon – Mumbai CST Jan Shatabdi Express, the Mangalore – Mumbai Superfast, the Ernakulam – LTT Duronto, and many long-distance weekly Express like the Ernakulam – Madgaon Express and the Marusagar Express.
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Building the Konkan Railway
The geography of the Konkan Railway route was very tough and unforgiving with deep gorges, steep cliffs, swampy marshes, uneven grassy and rocky plateaus, broad rivers, thick jungle, wet hills and so on. The geography changed every few kilometres, and the builders had to cut through hard volcanic rock, tropical jungle, soft and wet clay, and loose sand. Adding to this was the wild nature unleashed every now and then with tropical thunderstorms and violent monsoons causing cave-ins, landslides, flash floods and many more disasters marred the construction.
The line was to be constructed to enable rails to run at 160 kmph, which meant the railway track should be as level as possible with gradients and curves kept to a minimum for rails to maintain speed. This would mean building a lot of bridges, tunnels, and rock and earth to be cut down to allow the railway track to maintain its speed level for a run. Total 91 tunnels were dug, the longest at 5.6 kilometres. All the streams and rivers resulted in 2000 bridges.
Konkan Railway Time Table
Konkan Railways gives you the most appealing moments with endless stretches of water, paddy hues, and villages under shades of coconut trees and with many tunnels and bridges.