|Opened||26 January 1998|
|Owner||Ministry of Railways|
|Operator(s)||Konkan Railway Corporation|
|Line length||736 km (457.33 mi)|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Operating speed||120 km/h (75 mph)|
The Konkan Railway (abbreviated KR) is a railway operated by the Konkan Railway Corporation, with its headquarters at CBD Belapur in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The first passenger train ran on Konkan railway tracks on 20 March 1993, between Udupi and Mangalore. During its initial years of operation in the mountainous Konkan region, a number of accidents prompted Konkan Railway to implement new technology. Anti-collision devices, the Sky Bus and roll-on/roll-off (RORO) are several of the railway's innovations. The 741-km (461-mi) line connects the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. The first train on the completed track was sent off on January 26, 1998.[failed verification]
Before the Konkan Railway began operations, the ports of Mangalore and Mumbai were not directly connected by rail; passengers travelled on the Bengaluru-Belagavi-Pune route. During the mid-twentieth century, travellers to Mumbai from Mangaluru and adjacent areas went to Kadur or Birur by bus and caught a train to Mumbai (then named Bombay).
The railway was conveived by Nath Pai, a parliamentarian from Ratnagiri, assisted by national leaders such as Madhu Dandavate and George Fernandes (who hailed from Konkan). In 1966, a line was constructed between Diva in Mumbai and Panvel in Raigad district. During Dandavate's tenure in the Lok Sabha, it was extended to Roha in 1986 to serve area industries. During this time, Work on the Mangalore-Thokur line began at this time, without a link from Roha to Mangalore. In October 1984, the Ministry of Railways conducted an engineering and traffic survey for the 525-kilometre (326 mi) west-coastal portion from Surathkal to Madgaon. In March 1985, the ministry commissioned the Southern Railway to extend the survey's scope to include the western coastline from Madgaon to Roha.
The first phase of the Konkan Railway was the 62-kilometre (39 mi) section from Apta to Roha. It was cleared by the Planning Commission, and the project was included in the 1978-79 budget at an estimated cost of INR11.19 billion. The length of the railway from Apta to Mangalore was estimated at 890 kilometres (550 mi), and its cost was estimated at INR2.39 billion in 1976. The engineering and traffic survey for the West Coast Railway Line from Apta to Mangalore was conducted from 1970 to 1972. The final survey for the Apta-Roha-Dasgaon section was made in 1974-75.
E. Sreedharan's team had to analyze what kind of terrain the line would cross. Although some surveys had been made, there was no data for the Maharashtra stretch (half the length of the line). With over 2,000 bridges and 91 tunnels to be built through mountainous terrain many rivers, it was the largest railway-engineering project on the Indian subcontinent at the time. A major challenge was land acquisition from about 43,000 landowners. When Konkan Railway Corporation (KRCL) began asking people to surrender property which had belonged to them for generations, many (convinced of the project's importance) did so voluntarily. This enabled the process to be completed in one year.
Terrain and the elements were challenging; flash floods, landslides and tunnel collapses affected work at many places on the project. Thickly-forested construction sites were often visited by wild animals. Work on the project continued, however, and decentralisation produced greater efficiency. The 740-kilometre (460 mi) stretch was divided into seven sectors of about 100 kilometres (62 mi)--Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kudal, Madgaon, Karwar, Bhatkal and Udupi--each headed by a chief engineer.
The route crosses three states (Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka), each of which agreed to provide financing. The authorised share capital was increased in 1996-1997 from INR6 billion to INR8 billion, with the government of India taking a 51-percent share; the rest went to Maharashtra (22 percent), Karnataka (15 percent), Kerala (6 percent) and Goa (6 percent).
Contracts for the project were given to construction firms which included Larsen & Toubro had been given major part of project, Gammon India and Afcons. To speed up construction, piers for major bridges were cast on riverbanks itself and launched with pontoon-mounted cranes. This was India's first use of incremental launch bridge-building. Nine hydraulic tunnelling machines were imported from Sweden to bore through the rock of the Sahayadris. The greatest challenge was presented by the nine tunnels bored through soft soil, which required a slow, manual process. Excavation was difficult due to saturated clay and high water table. Tunnels collapsed immediately several times, requiring the work to be redone. Nineteen lives and four years were lost in the construction of the soft-soil tunnels alone, and a total of seventy-four people died during the railway's construction.
In Goa, which makes up 105 kilometres (65 mi) of the route, concerns were raised about the environmental and economic impact of the railway. According to opponents of the project, the coastal railway would destroy habitat, damage historical sites, and disrupt lives in the densely-populated state. In 1991, the Konkan Railway Re-Alignment Committee (KRRAC) organised protests against the proposed railway line. The KRRAC's main points were that the proposal would flood coastal regions, destroy fertile land, harm the monuments of Old Goa, irreparably damage the marshes and mangrove swamps along the coast and the estuaries of the Mandovi and Zuari Rivers, and displace neighbourhoods along the coast. The committee proposed an alternative hinterland alignment passing through relatively-unpopulated regions, which would extend the line by about 25 kilometres (16 mi) but reduce environmental damage.
The hinterland alignment was rejected by the Konkan Railway Corporation because it would substantially divert the line, deny rail access to Goa's population centers, and delay and increase the costs of construction. The KRRAC, which had become a political movement, filed public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court in March 1992 seeking an injunction on construction work and diversion of the line through the hinterland alignment. The high court dismissed the petition the following month, ruling that
... the claim of the petitioners that the alignment would have devastating and irreversible impact upon the khazan lands is without any foundation, and even otherwise, the extent of damage is extremely negligible and a public project of such a magnitude which is undertaken for meeting the aspirations of the people on the west coast cannot be defeated on such considerations. It is not open to frustrate the project of public importance to safeguard the interest of few persons. It cannot be overlooked that while examining the grievance about the adverse impact upon a small area of 30 hectares of Khazan lands, the benefit which will be derived by a large number of people by the construction of rail line cannot be brushed aside. The Courts are bound to take into consideration the comparative hardship which the people in the region will suffer by stalling the project of great public utility. The cost of the project escalates from day to day and, as pointed out by the Corporation, the extent of the interest and east which will be suffered by the Corporation every day is to the tune of Rs. 45 lakhs. No development is possible without some adverse effect on the ecology and environment ...
Work progressed on the line. In March 1993, the southern 47-kilometre (29 mi) between Thokur and Udupi in Karnataka was placed into service, followed by the northern 47-kilometre (29 mi) section between Roha and Veer in Maharashtra in June of that year. The first passenger train on the route ran between Mangalore and Udupi on 20 March 1993. The service was extended by 51 kilometres (32 mi) from Veer to Khed in March 1995, and by a further 265 kilometres (165 mi) from Khed to Sawantwadi Road in December 1996. Southern service was extended by 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Udupi to Kundapur in January 1995, and by a further 275 kilometres (171 mi) to Pernem in Goa in August 1997. Through service between Mumbai and Mangalore remained on hold due to a problematic tunnel at Pernem, which experienced repeated cave-ins and flooding. The tunnel was finally completed in January 1998, six years after its construction began. Through services on the line began after the inauguration of the full 740-kilometre (460 mi) stretch from Roha to Mangalore on 26 January 1998. Passenger service on the full route, between Mumbai and Mangalore, began in May 1998.
The route from Roha to Veer is double track. The rest of the route to Thokur is a single track, which is being electrified. The total route length is about 738 kilometres (459 mi). Although it has been designed for high-speed traffic of 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph), the fastest train on the route--the Trivandrum Rajdhani Express, which used to run at a maximum speed of 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph)--runs at a maximum speed of 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph). The route is open to freight and passenger traffic and runs parallel to the Arabian Sea, offering views along the coast. There are fifty-six stations on the line.
According to a study by the railway, track doubling is possible on about 300 km (186 mi) which runs on the plains. Several stretches on the 738-kilometre (459 mi) line can be converted to double track, such as the 47-kilometre (29 mi) line from Roha to Veer. The 60-kilometre (37 mi) stretch between Udupi and Mangalore is another candidate.
On 3 November 2015, Konkan Railway senior official Bhanu P. Tayal announced to the press that track-doubling and electrification would begin on 8 November 8 in Kolad. Life Insurance Corporation offered a favourable INR2.5 billion loan, and other funding would be available. The project, expected to cost INR100 billion, was scheduled for completion by 2020. 
In October 2018, the railway announced that the 46-kilometre (29 mi) stretch between Roha and Veer would have two tracks by December 2019. Electrification is in progress at an estimated cost of INR8 billion, and is scheduled for completion by February 2020. The railway was scheduled to have new stations at Indapur, Goregoan Road, Sape Wamane, Kalbani, Kadwai, Verawali, Kharepatan, Achirne, Mirjan and Innanje by December 2019.
The 738.941-kilometre (459.157 mi) railway has a total track length of 918.515 kilometres (570.739 mi). Its length through Maharashtra is 381.181 kilometres (236.855 mi), through Karnataka 251.76 kilometres (156.44 mi), and 106 kilometres (66 mi) through Goa.
The route was popular with passengers due to its connectivity with regions hitherto inaccessible by rail and the substantial time savings for travellers between western and southern India. Several trains which had taken circuitous routes ran on the Konkan Railway, reducing running time. The first of these was the Mumbai-Mangalore Netravati Express (later extended to Trivandrum), which was diverted to the Konkan Railway on 1 March 1998; this was followed by the Thiruvananthapuram Rajdhani Express on 1 April of that year. The Matsyagandha Express, running from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus to Mangalore, began service on 1 May 1998. The Hazrat Nizamuddin-Mangalore Mangala Lakshadweep Express was diverted to the route and extended to Ernakulam Junction on 1 August 1998. The Pune-Ernakulam Junction Express was introduced on 25 February 1999. The Marusagar Express, which runs between Jaipur and Ernakulam Junction and was extended to Ajmer via the Konkan Railway, began service on 12 October 2001. The Jan Shatabdi Express was flagged off between Mumbai and Madgaon (the longest-running Jan Shatabdi) on 16 April 2002 to commemorate Indian Railways' 150th anniversary. On 1 February 2008, a Garib Rath Express between the Kochuveli railway station in Thiruvananthapuram and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus began service.
The Tejas Express is the first semi-high-speed, fully air-conditioned train fleet introduced by Indian Railways, with modern on-board facilities. Its inaugural run was on 24 May 2017 from Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Karmali railway station in Goa. It covered 552 km (342 mi) in eight hours and 30 minutes.
Freight response to the railway was lukewarm, prompting its corporation to consider reducing its rates. With an outstanding debt of INR33.75 billion, the KRCL was counting on freight traffic for revenue. To attract freight traffic, the corporation began advertising to industries on the route.
The corporation introduced roll-on/roll-off (RORO) service, a road-rail system, on the section between Kolad (Maharashtra) and Verna, Goa in 1999; it was extended to the Surathkal railway station in Karnataka in 2004. The RORO service, the first of its kind in India, allowed trucks to be transported on flatcars. It has been popular, carrying about 1.6 million trucks and earning over INR1.2 billion by 2009.
The terrain and weather of the Konkan region have caused problems for the railway. During the 1998 monsoon, torrential rains triggered landslides which washed away tracks and disrupted service. Despite the corporation's efforts to address the problems through engineering (such as protective netting along cuttings to prevent boulders from rolling onto the tracks), the problems recurred each year.
The line's first major accident occurred on the night of 22 June 2003, when a landslide derailed a Karwar-Mumbai express train at the entrance to a tunnel. Fifty-one people died as a result of the accident, and others were injured. As a result, the corporation was severely criticised for failing to take adequate safety measures in the landslide-prone region. An inquiry reported that the cause of the accident was the failure of a cutting due to the lack of monsoon patrolling. The findings were disputed by the corporation, which said that the lack of monsoon patrolling did not lead to the accident (which was due to forces of nature). Shortly after the accident, however, the corporation announced that it would enhance safety measures on the route.
Barely a year later, the measures were found inadequate when a second major accident occurred on 16 June 2004. A Mangalore-Mumbai Matsyaganda Express derailed and fell off a bridge after striking boulders on the tracks, killing 20 people. Again, the corporation insisted that the accident was due to forces of nature. Questions were then raised about the safety and reliability of the Konkan Railway. An inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety ruled that the accident was caused by the "falling of boulders and earth" on the tracks. After the report was issued, the corporation implemented its recommendations. These included reducing train speeds during the monsoon to 75 km/h (47 mph) from 120 km/h (75 mph) and engineering measures such as boulder netting, shotcreting, rock bolting, micropiling and vetiver plantations along the line to improve safety.