Southern Railway has sought Rs.1,600 crore for various on-going projects in the zone for the financial year 2010-11, including Rs.600 crore for gauge conversion works, Rs.370 crore for doubling and Rs.280 crore for new lines. If the Railway Board sanctions the amount in the coming budget then it will be possible for the zone to show substantial progress in various projects.

In the coming financial year, the zone had planned to complete gauge conversion of about 300 km, including Tirunelveli-Tenkasi (72 km), Mayiladuthurai-Tiruvarur (38 km), Manamadurai-Virudhunagar (67 km), Palakad-Pollachi (58 km) and Dindigul-Palani (58km) sections besides Nagore-Karaikal and Salem-Namakkal portion of the Karur-Salem new lines.

The zone also demanded sufficient funds for doubling the Chengalpattu-Villupuram broad gauge section (103 km) as it has planned to complete at least 53 km before the end of March 2011.

These projects could be completed only if there is sufficient allotment of funds. Otherwise there would be a delay, according to a senior official of the Construction Department of Southern Railway.

As on date, Southern Railway requires about Rs.7,500 crore for completing all the on-going projects in the zone, including gauge conversion, doubling and new lines.

Even if the allotment is of the order of Rs.1,200 crore per annum, it would take at least six years for completing these projects.

Poor allotment of funds will not only delay the project but also lead to cost escalation.

Last year, the initial allotment was poor but subsequently, the zone received additional funds which helped it to complete some of gauge conversion projects. Before the end of March this year, the zone would complete the conversion of Podanur-Coimbatore (6 km), Quilon-Punalur (45 km), Villupuram-Vellore (150 km), and Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai (122 km) and the third line from Tiruvallur to Arakkonam.

The official said the Commissioner of Railway Safety would inspect the Villupuram–Mayiladuthurai section on February 24 and 25 for clearing the new BG line for passenger traffic.

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