The completion of the Karur-Namakkal-Salem new broad gauge line, which is expected to be thrown open for train traffic soon, is likely to act as a catalyst in introducing a new train service between Bangalore and Nagercoil, a long pending demand.
The new line comes with dual benefits of providing shorter route between Karur and Salem and also avoids some 20 minutes consumed on engine turnaround at Erode junction. “Overall, we can save around one hour running time, if we use the new line,” a senior official said.
The non-stop Madurai-Chennai Duronto Express trains could also be diverted to run on the new line to save time and fuel, the official added.
Presently, the 16731/16732 Tuticorin-Mysore-Tuticorin Expresses is the only train connecting Bangalore with deep southern districts of Tamil Nadu. The Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts residents’ Association of Bangalore has been making fervent appeal to the Railway Ministry seeking an overnight daily train between Bangalore and Nagercoil that could cater to all southern districts for some years now.
Its president, T.S. Jegan, said that the 16537/16538 weekly train running between Bangalore and Nagercoil was not enough to cater to the huge demand for train accommodation from the passengers of southern districts.
Besides, the timing of train also did not suit the office-goers and students as it left Nagercoil at 1.20 p.m. on Saturdays. In the return direction, it reached Nagercoil at 2 p.m. “Passengers have to lose one day attendance/pay at work for the sake of travelling in this train, that too, available only on one day a week,” he said.
Hundreds of people from southern districts were employed in the Information Technology industry in Bangalore. Similarly, many people from southern districts were involved in various businesses in Bangalore, Hosur and Dharmapuri. The association claimed that at least 3,000 people used the road to travel in this route due to lack of adequate accommodation in trains.
Train No. 16526/16525 Kanyakumari-Bangalore Expresses too did not benefit the passengers as it took the circuitous route of 944 km (via Kerala) instead of 723 km via Madurai-Salem. The travelling time was 21 long hours as against 14 hours by other trains.
The Karur-Namakkal-Salem new line project which is likely to be thrown open for rail traffic very soon as the Commissioner of Railway Safety is scheduled to inspect the track next week. This has raised the hope of railway officials in meeting the long-pending demand of passengers of southern districts.
A leader of Southern Railway Mazdoor Union in charge of loco running staff, V. Ramkumar, explained that the Tuticorin-Mysore Expresses lost at least 20 minutes running time for engine turnaround at Erode junction on both directions.
Other advantage of the new route is that it cuts down the travelling distance by at least 40 km. The distance of Karur-Erode-Salem was around 128 km as against the new route which was only 85 km.