S. Vydhianathan

Line runs along east coast and sub-soil is weak

  • Existing bridges to be dismantled, new ones constructed using pile foundation
  • Their height to be increased by two-three metres, considering last year's floods

    CHENNAI: Conversion of the Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai line will be a challenging task for Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL), which has been entrusted with the task by the Railway Board.

    The122-km stretch is the remaining portion of the Villupuram-Thanjavur conversion project (192 km). The line between Thanjavur and Mayiladuthurai has been converted.

    There are 310 bridges, including 33 major ones, and 18 level crossings and subways between Villupuram and Mayiladuthurai. The line runs along the east coast, and the sub-soil, where the existing bridges are located, is weak.

    An RVNL official says in view of the poor soil condition, it is desirable to lay the new bridges on the existing foundation. RVNL has decided to dismantle the existing bridges and construct new ones using pile foundation. Their height will be increased by two to three metres, taking into consideration last year's floods. As the soil throughout the stretch is uniformly weak, the embankments also have to be strengthened.

    Another problem being encountered by RVNL is the movement of construction materials such as ballasts and soil to the construction spot. With all these difficulties, the work has to be completed by December 2007, the target date fixed by the Railway Board.

    According to railway officials, once this portion is completed, it will link Chennai with Tiruchi via Villupuram, Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Mayiladuthurai, Kumbakonam and Thanjavur, known as `mainline' in railway parlance. For years, it did not get priority and allotment of funds was poor. Now, the Board has decided to complete the section before December 2007.

    The official says though it is a difficult target to achieve, RVNL will complete the conversion. Other major projects being undertaken by RVNL are the Vriddhachalam-Salem metre gauge line and a third line from Tiruvalur to Arakkonam.

    Vriddhachalam-Salem is part of the Salem-Cuddalore conversion project (Rs. 191 crore), which is being part financed by the State Government. The line from Cuddalore to Vriddhachalam has been converted. The Vriddhachalam-Salem portion is to be executed jointly by Southern Railway and RVNL. While Southern Railway will take up the conversion work from Vriddhachalam to Attur, the rest will be done by RVNL.

    The official says the work will be completed before January-end next year. As the existing line is on plain terrain, there will not be any difficulty in completing the work before the target date. Similarly, the third line from Arakkonam to Tiruvallur will also be completed as early as possible.