Syed Muthahar Saqaf

TIRUCHI: With electrification work between Villupuram and Tiruchi over and operation of long distance trains hauled by electric locomotives currently under way on a trial basis up to Tiruchi Junction, the stage is now set for the inauguration of the electrified broad gauge section.

Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed will formally dedicate the 178-kilometre electrified section at a function to be held here on January 30 that will mark yet another milestone in the annals of the Southern Railway.

Southern Railway will operate mail, express and superfast trains on a regular basis from January 30 onwards. Central Organisation for Railway Electrification, an organisation under the Railways Ministry, completed in two years the project that was sanctioned by the Railway Board in 2006, according to railway sources here.

Cost overrun

Though the estimated project cost was Rs. 96.67 crore at the time of sanction, the work was completed at a total cost of Rs. 148 crore in two years owing to cost escalation.

Traction sub-stations at Ariyalur and Tiruchi were established as part of the project, railway sources said adding that the project was first taken up from Villupuram to Ariyalur, and later from Ariyalur to Tiruchi.

Goods trains were operated on the electric traction between Villupuram and Ariyalur from 2008 onwards to feed the cluster of cement plants situated in and around Ariyalur.

Work on the second phase was completed in July 2009 and the first goods train hauled by electric engine was operated from Villupuram to Golden Rock near Tiruchi from August.

However, passenger train services in the electrified section could not be introduced due to the delay in commissioning the traction sub-station at Vriddhachalam, the works of which are apace.

Operation of passenger train services on a “trial basis” commenced a fortnight ago following completion of works and after having obtained clearance from the Commissioner of Railway Safety.

The change of locomotive at Villupuram Junction will now be avoided with the section having been energised. The sources said the next phase of electrification work in the Tiruchi –Dindigul-Madurai broad gauge section was under way.

More In: Today's Paper