Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Faced with a phenomenal increase in freight as well as passenger traffic, Southern Railway launched a massive capacity building mission at a cost of Rs.10,316 crore.

The zone has undertaken Rs.4,116-crore worth of works in gauge conversion, invested Rs.2,982 crore in new lines, Rs.3,190 crore in doubling and Rs.28 crore in improving traffic facilities.

These works will improve line capacity on trunk routes to cope with the massive increase in traffic, said Southern Railway General Manager M.S. Jayanth here on Thursday. Presiding over the 54th Railway Week celebrations, he said to handle additional freight and passenger requirements, several enhancement works had been taken up by the zone.

These included removal of speed restrictions in many sections and increase in speed in certain other sections.

The General Manager said the overall gross earnings had witnessed a growth of 8.9 per cent to 16.4 per cent. An important feature of last year’s achievement was that the growth in freight, sundry and other coaching had contributed more than passenger earnings.

The zone had achieved the best ever loading of 33.765 million tonnes as against the previous year’s loading of 30.031 million tonnes and the previous best of 31.073 million tonnes.

There was explosive growth of passenger traffic. The zone transported 685.43 million passengers as against 459.1 million in 2004-05.

To meet the ever growing demand of passenger traffic, the zone operated 2,070 specials. Additional 7,003 coaches were also added with a view to clear the waitlisted passengers.

To provide additional amenities to passengers, Southern Railway spent Rs.73 crore as against the budget grant of Rs.43 crore.

On the rolling stock front, expansion of Erode electric loco shed from 100 to 175 and a new electric loco shed at Royapuram to house 100 locos were planned.

In the current financial year, the Madurai- Dindigul double line, Tiruvallur – Arakkonam third line and Villupuram – Mayiladuthurai BG line would become operational, he added.