The much awaited Salem – Namakkal – Karur new broad gauge railway line is expected to be thrown open for freight traffic shortly after inspection by Commissioner of Railway Safety.
The project, undertaken at a cost of Rs.760 crore, covers 85 km and has been completed in two phases – Salem to Namakkal (53 km), and Namakkal to Karur (32 km).
The 85-km-long track between Salem and Karur has culverts, 80 over bridges and under passes, including an 800-m-long Vangal bridge at Karur.
Construction of railway stations is nearing completion.
The sector has stations that include, Mallur, Rasipuram, Puduchatram, Kalangani, Namakkal, Laduvdi, Mohanur, Vangal and Karur.
Trial run of train engine from Salem to Mohanur was done in March 2011, and along Mohanur to Karur in December 2011.
Salem Divisional Railway Manager Sujatha Jayaraj said that track works had been completed on the sector and works are underway to construct stations.
Recruitment of station masters and other personnel were in progress, Ms. Jayaraj added.
The project that was initially estimated at Rs. 230 crore in 1996-97, had been revised to Rs. 740 crore.
Started in 1998, land acquisitions, litigations, inadequate allotment of funds etc, had delayed it for 14 years.
Once commissioned, the travel distance between Salem and Karur will be reduced by 45 km as currently trains bound for Karur, from Salem have to go via Erode.
A senior railway engineer pointed out that freight traffic is expected to begin any time now. Passenger traffic will begin in June after inspection by the Commissioner of Railway Safety.
Once commissioned, it is expected to improve the economic and industrial activities in the three districts.