The shortest rail connectivity between Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram would be restored in three years on completion of the gauge conversion work of the Shencottah-Punalur section, which would be taken up shortly.

Traffic on the metre gauge line on the 45-km stretch, mostly ghat section, would be closed from September 20 to enable the work. This would be the final leg of the gauge conversion project on the Virudhunagar-Tenkasi-Tirunelveli/Tiruchendur-Kollam section. Broad gauge services on the Virudhunagar-Shencottah and Punalur-Kollam sections were commissioned in phases as and when the works were completed.

“Work on this small portion could not be taken up for its complexities, like the rough terrain, tunnels and sharp curves on the stretch,” a railway official said. The cost of the project, which was around Rs.357 crore in December 2008, has now escalated to Rs.380 crore.

Keywords: rail transport