With the Railways likely to take a decision on the opening date of the newly converted Villupuram – Mayiladuthurai broad gauge line in a day or two, the demand from various chambers, consumer organisations, train travellers forums and the travelling public to reintroduce all trains which were suspended for undertaking the gauge conversion works on the main line has gathered momentum.
Some associations and forums in centres like Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and Mayiladuthurai have joined hands to launch various programmes to bring pressure on the Railways to press the demand. They are of the view that the demand for resumption of all the suspended trains was justified taking into consideration the patronage these trains enjoyed while they were in operation on the MG track.
As per the current railway time table, the people of the Delta districts will be getting a day express train (Tiruchi – Chennai Egmore ‘Cholan’ express) and a overnight train (Nagore – Chennai Egmore) to reach Chennai. In the past they had a couple of overnight express trains – Rameswaram – Chennai ‘Boat Mail’ and Shencottai / Madurai –Chennai ‘Janata express’, which were operated from southern districts. These trains enjoyed good patronage on both the directions. Besides, two passenger trains were operated to Chennai – one from Tiruchi and another train from Thanjavur.
The timings of both these passenger trains were to the liking of the travelling public of Thanjavur, Kumbakoman, Mayiladuthurai and even Chidambaram in Cuddalore district. These trains were largely patronised by people belonging to the weaker sections and thereby reduced the burden on the other two overnight express trains.
Besides, a day-night Madurai – Tirupathi express train was also operated via the main line.
What has shocked the people of the delta districts is the decision of the Railways to operate both the Rameswaram – Chennai Egmore over night express trains on the ‘chord’ line. The Railways should operate one of the Rameswaram trains on the main line, observed, N. Natarajan, a former central government employee of Thanjavur. The operation of a direct train from delta districts to Rameswaram will be of immense help to the devotees and pilgrims visiting the various temples at Tirunallar, Chidambaram, Vaitheeswarankoil and Thanjavur, he adds.
“In the absence of Boat Mail and Janatha Express, the people of the delta districts, will have no train connectivity to the southern districts”, says T. Deepa, a school teacher of Mayiladuthurai.
The Thanjavur Chamber of Commerce and Industries, have already made a forceful plea for the re-introduction of all the trains. A Main Line Railway Services Restoration Joint Action Committee has been formed in Kumbakonam and it has already launched a campaign demanding re-introduction of all the suspended trains once the new BG line is opened for traffic. The Mayiladuthurai Traders’ Association recently held an agitation for the same demand.
However the travelling public of the central districts have welcomed the decision of the Railways to operate the weekly once Rameswaram – Bhubaneswar and Rameswaram – Varanasi trains on the main line and also weekly twice Madurai – Chennai express.
Now that the main line section has been cleared for passenger traffic, the Railways should restore the Rockfort Express to Tiruchi and should operate a separate train to Chennai from delta districts as announced in the Railway Budget 2005, Mrs. Deepa says.