Economic advantages of the Ariyalur-Thanjavur railway line were discussed at a meeting held under the presidentship of S.S. Palani Manickam, Union Minister of State for Finance, here on Saturday.

S. Subramhanyam, Divisonal Railway Manager, Tiruchi, M.S. Shanmugham, District Collector, representatives from Karaikal port and various cement factories like Dalmia, India Cement, Chettinad, Ramco, Birla, Tamil Nadu participated in the meeting. Karaikal port representatives highlighted the cargo potential of the port and the advantages, especially that of handling coal, that would accrue to the Railways. P. Jayachandran, Head, Railways, Karaikal Port said that at present they are sending 4,500 tonnes of coal in 700 lorries. Distance and time also would be saved when once the Ariyalur-Thanjavur railway line comes into being. They urged the railway authorities to expedite the project.

Mr. Palani Manickam later told presspersons that the port and cement factories will send a report to the railway ministry regarding the cargo potential and also their interest in taking part in the new project along with the government. He said he would also discuss the matter with the railway minister Mamta Banerjee. “In all probability, we would exert pressure on the railway ministry to take up the project this year itself,” the Minister said.

He also said the main line will start functioning from March this year and all the trains running on this line prior to gauge conversion will continue to operate.

Mr. Subramhanyan said the Ariyalur-Thanjavur line was for a distance of 50 km and the project cost now has been estimated at Rs. 250 crore.