The Rameswaram–Chennai–Rameswaram Express, popularly known as ‘Boat Mail', will be restored to its original route (main line) from August 1.
Introduced in 1920s, this train is one of the oldest services in the Southern Railway providing rail connectivity to the now defunct Dhanuskodi town passing through the historic Pamban viaduct. The restoration of this train in its original route has delighted travellers especially those in the central districts.
Initially the Boat Mail was introduced between Chennai and Dhanuskodi. This service took passengers to the world famous Dhanuskodi pier, where a steamer heading for Talaimannar in Sri Lanka was anchored adjacent to the railway station.
Under a special arrangement, Talaimannar passengers could get tickets at any station in the state for travel by the Boat Mail. Similarly, the ferry service fare from Talaimannar included rail ticket charges. The train was also known as ‘Indo-Ceylon' express.
As people of repute and foreigners travelled by this train, it was equipped with a canteen on wheels. There was no road link to Rameswaram island in those days, and as such adequate number of luggage vans were attached to this train for transporting goods to the island.
On December 24, 1964, cyclone washed away Dhanuskodi town, the pier, and a passenger train proceeding to Dhanuskodi, the railways operated this train between Chennai and Rameswaram.
The operation of this service was suspended in May 2003 owing to the closure of the track between Thanjavur and Kumbakonam for gauge conversion work.
The Rameswaram express was restored via chord line after the completion of gauge conversion works on the Tiruchi – Rameswaram section a couple of years ago. With the main line via Thanjavur, Mayiladuthurai etc thrown open for traffic in March last, the Railways has decided to restore the Rameswaram express on its original route from August 1.
The railways has already come out with the revised timings for this train. Train No. 6702 Rameswaram – Chennai Express, will leave Rameswaram at 4.30 p.m., and arrive Tiruchi Junction at 10.45 p.m. and Thanjavur junction at 11.53 p.m. and reach Chennai Egmore at 6.40 a.m., the next day.
In the return direction, Train No. 6701 will leave Chennai at 7.55 p.m. It will arrive Thanjavur at 2.25 a.m. and Tiruchi at 3.25 a.m. and reach Rameswaram at 9.30 a.m. the next day.