The Tamil Nadu Government’s gazette notification dated January 7, 2013, according powers to Sub-Collector of Pollachi to initiate the process for land acquisition in Solavampalayam renews the hopes over expediting gauge conversion of the Podanur – Pollachi section.
When the Southern Railway decided to convert the Coimbatore – Pollachi – Udumalpet – Palani – Dindigul section, the metre gauge train services were suspended in 2009 bringing an end to the rail connectivity for Western Tamil Nadu with the Southern districts.
This resulted in additional pressure on road traffic, said rail activist S. Ravi.
The Dindigul – Palani section gauge conversion was completed and train services were resumed on November 20, 2012.
Though well behind the schedule, even the gauge conversion of the Palani – Udumalpet – Pollachi sections was progressing at a faster pace.
This section was likely to be commissioned and the train services could be expected shortly, the railway officials said.
But the 40-km-stretch of the Pollachi – Podanur section remained an island with the gauge conversion works getting inordinately delayed due to pending land acquisition.
Southern Railway made it clear that a broad gauge line could never be run along the metre gauge track since the trains required more turning radius and sought acquisition of land along the entire stretch.
The other section where the conversion was getting delayed was the Pollachi – Palakkad section because of bridge works and contractual failures.
In the Pollachi – Podanur section, 40 acres had to be acquired in six revenue villages viz. Kinathukkadavu, Nallatipalayam, Solavampalayam, Chettipalayam, Arasampalayam and Kodangipalayam.