V.S. Palaniappan

`Delay due to lack of coordination between departments'

  • Requests for new trains have been turned down citing pathway congestion
  • Budgetary allocations are inadequate
  • Dispute over sharing cost of over bridges also creates problems

    Coimbatore: Irugur line-doubling project continues to remain a dream though 10 years have passed since it was included in the Railway Budget of 1996-1997.

    The single railway line between the Coimbatore Junction and Irugur is a bottleneck affecting timely operation of trains and introduction of new services. Trains entering Coimbatore will either be held up at Irugur or have to move at snail's pace because of the single line.

    Railway authorities are turning down requests for new trains citing the pathway congestion.

    Important trains

    Three pairs of important trains are being operated via Podanur and Irugur skipping Coimbatore and any schedule for a special or a new train will automatically skip Coimbatore.

    While budgetary allocations proved to be inadequate all along, now teething troubles are derailing the completion of the project.

    The project seems to suffer from want of coordination between various Central and State Government departments, say sources.

    In the last 10 years, railways had completed only 2.6 km line conversion between the Coimbatore Junction and the North. It has helped in giving a little breathing space for the Coimbtore Junction when there are more outgoing and incoming trains.

    Cost escalation

    Of the estimated cost of Rs. 38.66 crore (including cost escalation over the last few years), the railways has so far allotted Rs. 24.49 crore, say highly placed railway sources. The project is not progressing owing to hitches in handing over of 1.365 hectares by the State Government.

    Unresolved disputes over the issue of sharing the cost of over bridges at two places - on Sathyamangalam Road (near Textool) and on Avanashi Road near Hope College - are also delaying the project.

    Railways, as per the existing norms, is willing to foot the cost involved in replacing the existing structure whereas the Highways authorities want both two-lane bridges replaced with six-lane bridges.

    Railways had made it clear that it would demolish the existing structure for widening the pathway and construct another. But the cost of increased lanes would have to be borne by the Highways. Talks between officials and Ministers were in the final stages.

    Approval

    The revised General Agreement Drawing (GAD) has been sent to the National/State Highways for approval. Railway authorities are now going slow on other works since the money invested in rest of the incomplete work will become a dead investment.

    While no time limit is fixed for completing the project at the time of including it in the budget proposal, the railway authorities are expecting to complete it by 2008. The secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause, K. Kathirmathiyon, has asked the Chief Minister to sort out the issues since Governments of consensus are in power both at the State and the Centre.

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