TIRUCHI: With the Villupuram–Tiruchi broad gauge section electrified, Southern Railway has commenced operating passenger services hauled by electric locomotives on the chord line section on a “trial basis” up to the Tiruchi junction.
Passenger service started from Tuesday night after the Kumbakonam–bound Rockfort Express from Chennai was hauled by an electric engine up to the Tiruchi junction without a loco change over (from electric to diesel) at the Villupuram junction. The engine was changed in Tiruchi. On Wednesday, Southern Railway operated Chennai–Guruvayur Express, which was hauled by an electric engine up to the Tiruchi junction.
The electric loco was detached in Tiruchi and a diesel engine was attached in its place for its onward journey.
Similarly, an electric engine was attached to Guruvayur–Chennai Express at the Tiruchi junction after disconnecting the diesel loco that was operated up to Tiruchi. Railway authorities here told The Hindu that passenger train services hauled by electric engine on a “trial basis” had commenced following completion of electrification work on the 178-km stretch from Villupuram to Tiruchi and after obtaining clearance from the Commissioner of Railway Safety.
The operation of passenger trains hauled by electric loco would reduce travel time from Chennai to Tiruchi and vice versa as there will be no need for a locomotive change at Villupuram. Further, the electric loco has higher acceleration when compared to diesel engine.
The Central Organisation for Railway Electrification, falling under the Ministry of Railway, had executed the electrification project that was sanctioned by the Railway Board in 2006.
Though the estimated project cost was Rs. 96.67 crore at the time of sanction, the electrification work was completed at a total cost of Rs. 148 crore in two years.
Traction sub-stations were established at Ariyalur and Tiruchi as part of the project, a senior railway official said, adding that the traction sub-station work at the Vriddhachalam junction was currently apace. Over 5,000 masts were erected on the Villupuram–Tiruchi BG section that has a total number of 112 level-crossing gates; five foot over bridges; eight road over bridges; 14 major bridges and nine switching posts. The railways had been operating freight trains on Villupuram–Tiruchi electrified section for over six months now.
The official said more passenger trains hauled by the electric loco up to Tiruchi from Chennai and from Tiruchi to Chennai would commence in the due course of time.
Electrification work on the Tiruchi–Dindigul–Madurai BG section was currently under way, the official added.