Staff Reporter

Meet was expected to raise priorities of the elected representatives ahead of the budget The MPs were unanimous in their view that doubling of the Madurai-Dindigul section should be expedited

MADURAI: It was a crucial meeting of top railway officials and MPs of Madurai and Tiruchi Divisions to discuss the priorities of elected representatives in their respective constituencies ahead of the railway budget. Of the 31 MPs, including Rajya Sabha members, only nine turned up for the meeting convened here on Wednesday.

The meeting that commenced around 10.30 a.m. ended shortly before lunch. R. Gopinathan Nair, Additional General Manager (Southern Railway), and senior railway officials took part. The MPs who spoke on the occasion were unanimous in their view that doubling of the Madurai-Dindigul section should be expedited. While highlighting the gauge conversion of the Dindigul-Pollachi/Palghat section, they called for bringing the Coimbatore, Erode and Tiruppur railway establishments under the newly created Salem Division. Pondicherry MP M. Ramadoss called for the creation of a rail network linking Pondicherry, Mahe, Yanam and Karaikal.

Union Minister of State for Law and Justice K. Venkatapathy, who represents Cuddalore constituency, appealed to the officials to revive Asakalathur station near Ulundurpet for the convenience of passengers.

Madurai MP P. Mohan reiterated the demand for introducing a fast passenger (day) train between Madurai and Chennai Egmore to benefit the people. The Madurai-Villupuram passenger was not a popular service because of the odd timings of operation.

"The views expressed by MPs in such meetings dictate the direction of policy for the ensuing years. At least 25 MPs had actually given their consent to be present. Many vital issues such as growing island sections on the metre gauge and safety problems during the monsoon in Madurai/Tiruchi Divisions were not discussed," a senior Railway official said.

Palani MP S.K. Kharventhan explained the need for new lines between Madurai and Kottayam, through Bodinaickanur, Madurai and Tuticorin, via Aruppukottai, and Madurai and Sabarimalai.

E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, K.M. Kader Mohideen, V. Radhika Selvi, C. Krishnan and A. Ravichandran, MPs; and Divisional Railway Managers B.N. Rajasekhar (Madurai) and D.K. Saraf (Tiruchi), participated in the meeting.