Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The newly converted broad-gauge line from Karaikudi to Manamdurai has been cleared for passenger traffic by the Commissioner of Railway Safety.

Commissioner K.J.S. Naidu, who conducted a safety inspection of the 61-km track for three days from June 16, certified that the line was fit for passenger traffic.

With the completion of this stretch , the Tiruchi-Manamadurai-Rameswaram gauge conversion project has been completed. The new line will enable the Railways to run direct services to Rameswaram from Chennai, through Tiruchi, Pudukottai and Karaikudi. The Chennai–Rameswaram Express, now running through Tiruchi, Madurai and Manamadurai, will soon operate on the new route, which will help to cut 53 km.

The line is likely to be thrown open for traffic on July 2. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is likely to flag off the first train, says Southern Railway sources.

Southern Railway Chief Administrative Officer R. Ramanathan told The Hindu said gauge conversion from Tirunelveli to Tiruchendur (62 km), Dindigul to Kodaikanal Road (22 km) and Katpadi to Vellore (10 km) had also been completed, and the Commissioner of Railway Safety would soon inspect the lines.