V.S. Palaniappan

Coimbatore: Coimbatore Railway Junction, the second largest revenue spinner in Southern Railway next to Chennai and the gateway to Udhagamandalam as well as Kerala, languishing because of inadequate rail connectivity and infrastructure has pinned its hopes on the Railway Budget.

Coimbatore, an industrial hub with textile mills, machinery spare manufacturing units, hospitals and educational institutions, attracts a large number of travellers but train connectivity is at the lowest and there is a need for more trains from Coimbatore, says Coimbatore Consumer Cause Secretary K. Kathirmathiyon.

The project to double the track between Coimbatore and Irugur has been in limbo for more than a decade. Citing the single line bottleneck, the Southern Railway frequently diverts some important trains via Irugur-Podanur-Irugur skipping Coimbatore Junction. Inadequate allocation of funds for gauge conversion between Coimbatore and Dindigul has delinked Western Tamil Nadu from Southern Tamil Nadu.

Proposals for construction of rail overbridges await administrative approval.

Coimbatore Railway Users Associations Secretary S. Vaidyanathakrishnan said train connectivity was urgently required to Rameshwaram at least for the time being via Erode-Karur-Tiruchirapalli-Madurai until the Coimbatore – Pollachi – Udumalpet – Palani – Dindigul gauge conversion was completed.

Then the same could be routed via Pollachi and Dindigul. The demand for an overnight express train to Bangalore had been pending for long.

An additional train on the Coimbatore– Chennai sector has not been granted. There is also a demand for extension of Thiruvananthapuram–Palakkad Amrita Express up to Coimbatore or Mettuppalayam or even up to Erode considering the number of Keralites living in this part of the State.

A train to Tirupati at least on alternate days has not been sanctioned citing lack of terminal facilities at Tirupati. People have demanded that the railways at least consider operating the empty rakes, which remain idle for more than 40 hours, of Rajkot Express up to Tirupati.

On the infrastructure side, Southern Railways should concentrate on developing Podanur, Coimbatore North and Peelamedu stations besides making use of the land in these places for developing rake maintenance and terminal facilities so that congestion at Coimbatore Junction could be eased to a considerable extent.