The project has been delayed for over 15 years now
People of Salem and its suburbs are a disappointed lot as the much-awaited and much-delayed passenger train service on the Salem – Namakkal – Karur new broad gauge track is expected to commence only in April.
The project that is delayed over 15 years now is yet to see a passenger train chugging on the sector as regular freight service commenced last year, thereby reducing the distance between Salem and Karur by over 40 k.m.
But the people of the region were disappointed over the delay in running of passenger train service as the sector serves as a vital link with the southern districts and people still have to depend on road transport.
The delay in introduction of service in the sector puts passengers to hardship as they have to board trains to Erode and then continue their journey to Karur.
“It is very tedious to travel additional 40 k.m. every day, though tracks are ready,” says a worker who travels to Karur every day.
Railway officials said that signal connectivity between Salem and Mohanur in Namakkal has been completed while the rest of work from Mohanur to Karur is nearing completion.
“Over 95 per cent of the work is over,” they added.
Salem Division Railway Manager Sujatha Jayaraj told The Hindu that once works are completed, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Southern Railway would request the Commissioner of Railway Safety to carry out inspection in the sector for commencing passenger service.
“However, no time frame could be fixed, possibly by March end,” she added.
Started in 1997 at an estimated cost of Rs. 225 core to lay tracks for 85 k.m., the project ran into rough weathers with land acquisitions turning into a mammoth task ending up in legal disputes.
Work resumed in 2007 at a revised estimate of Rs. 630 crore as track laying, construction of stations and bridges and other works were completed a year ago.
S. Semmalai, MP, during the recent meeting with DRM also stressed the importance of commencing the service soon for the benefit of the people, students and the traders.