After several years of promises made and recommendations sent, a new line between Sriperumbudur and Guduvanchery with a spur line to Irungattukottai, Avadi was announced in the Railway Budget 2013-14.
Welcoming the budget announcement, several residents and industrialists said that it would make travel to the fast-developing Sriperumbudur-Irungattukottai industrial belt much easier.
When completed, the new line will also help significantly decongest train traffic at Chennai Central station, as all south-bound trains can then be diverted from Avadi to Sriperumbudur.
Industrialist V. Rajkumar of Irungattukottai said that it would also help freight movement.
The line will also be crucial for an integrated dry port and multi-modal logistics hub coming up in Mappedu, Sriperumbudur. The dry port will enable major industries with establishments in and around the area to use Chennai port’s facilities.
Residents recalled that this budget recommendation was made in 2010 by Member of Parliament T.R. Baalu.
Sources in Southern Railway said that an initial survey has been completed for the new line. “We found that we will require 385 hectares of land to lay the 73-km line. The land acquisition cost is estimated to be around Rs. 350 crore,” a source said.
Once the necessary sanction for the project, including environment clearance is obtained, a final location survey will be conducted, land classifications will be found and major and minor bridges will be marked.
The project will take at least four years to be completed, as the land acquisition process alone will take around two years, the source added.
Though seven new trains have been announced between Chennai and other parts of the State and country, the budget has left some commuters, particularly those to north India, disappointed.
Arjun Singh who frequently travels to Rajasthan said that they needed more trains to Jodhpur from Chennai.
Residents of Royapuram also complained that the government was yet to take concrete steps to develop Royapuram railway station as announced in last year’s budget. A.T.P. Bose, co-convenor of the Rail Passengers Rights Tribune said that if the Royapuram heritage railway station was developed into a terminal, trains bound to the eastern and northern parts of the country could leave from there.
Representatives of disabled associations like S. Namburajan said that budget announcements were not being promptly implemented.
Accessibility to platforms and boarding trains continues to be a problem for many persons with physical disabilities. The escalators, lifts and Braille stickers that were announced in the budget have to be implemented soon. “Other commuters occupy many coaches dedicated for the disabled.
The government should also provide an identity card for disabled commuters that are accepted by services such as railways,” said Mr. Namburajan.
Many youngsters welcomed the announcements to provide free wi-fi facilities on several trains and the proposal to introduce an educational tourist train ‘Azadi Express’ that would allow youngsters to travel to places connected to the freedom movement at subsidised fares. S. Samuel, a human resources professional said it would help him work while travelling.