With the first goods train chugging on the new broad gauge track, connecting Karur, Namakkal, and Salem districts, the long-time dream of people of these districts has finally come true on Thursday.

The goods train, carrying more than 5,120 tonnes rice, was proceeding from Padugapadu in Andhra Pradesh to Tirunelveli. Salem Divisional Railway Manager Sujatha Jayaraj flagged off the goods train at Salem Junction at around 10.50 hrs in the presence of Divisional Operations Manager Vijayabala and Senior Divisional Engineer Nirala. On board the goods train were Additional DRM Thavamani Pandiyan and few other officials.

The train with 58 wagons proceeded from Salem to Karur via Namakkal on the newly-laid track at a pace of 30 kmph and took almost three hours to travel the 95 km stretch.

This being the first full fledged train service being operated on the newly laid track, enthusiastic crowds gathered in villages en route, especially at Vangal and Vennamalai neighbourhoods in Karur district to see the train pass through their area. “We are definitely delighted as we see light at the end of the tunnel. There is now hope that passenger services can commence at the earliest and the railway officials could put in that bit of effort to get us that Pongal gift,’’ points out a retired State government official Balasubramanian of Karur. The project started in 1997 at an outlay of Rs.225 crore, has now been completed at a revised estimate of Rs.630 crore. The new track will reduce distance between Karur and Salem by 30 km, besides shrinking travel time.