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Will Coimbatore's gain be Podanur's loss?

V.S. Palaniappan
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Apprehension over plan to route more trains via Coimbatore Railway Junction

With less than 50 per cent of the express trains stopping at Podanur Junction at present, the demand for routing more trains via Coimbatore has accelerated fear among the residents of Podanur and nearby areas that the junction might lose the stoppage for even the existing trains.

Close proximity of Podanur Junction with Coimbatore (within ten km) is the prime reason for the fear that Railways might do away with the stoppage at Podanur Junction for important trains.

It may be noted that the Podanur Railway Junction, established by the Madras Railway Company in 1863, is under renovation at a cost of Rs. 4 crore. The station was well utilised when the Southern Railway had the meter gauge services from Coimbatore to Rameswaram and then up to Madurai.

At one stage, meter gauge services were operated to and from Podanur. After the line was taken up for gauge conversion, only 50 per cent of the trains stopped at Podanur Junction. And, this causes the fear of the station losing its importance.

Podanur, which was once the Divisional Headquarters, lost its status when the headquarters was shifted to Olavakkode near Palakkad. Podanur was once tipped for development as a satellite terminal to decongest the Coimbatore Junction, where availability of land is a constraint for taking up any development. New Delhi has Hazrat Nizamuddin, Mumbai has Kurla, Chennai has Egmore and Perambur as satellite stations. “So, why not Podanur for Coimbatore?” ask consumer activists.

Considering the congestion and constraints at Coimbatore Junction, Podanur needs to be developed but definitely not at the cost of Coimbatore Junction. Similarly, conceding to the demands of Coimbatore Junction need not be at the loss of Podanur Junction, says Jameel Ahmed, Member, Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee.

When trains stop at almost all the stations after entering Kerala, why should it skip stations with public patronage in Tamil Nadu. Trains can be routed through Coimbatore, but they can halt at Podanur too, says V. Easwaran, District Secretary of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

This will help people from Podanur, Kurichi, Sundarapuram, Madukkarai, Kuniamuthur, Kovaipudur to board trains easily, says U.K. Sivagnanam, another Member of Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee.

As in the case of any growing city, the railways should revive and modernise enroute stations such as Podanur, Coimbatore North, Peelamedu, Singanallur and Irugur and have at least trains terminating at Coimbatore halt here, says S. Vaidyanathakrishnan of Coimbatore Railway Users Association. At present, of the 14 pairs of daily express trains, six stop at Podanur besides six pairs of passenger trains and 13 weekly, tri-weekly and bi-weekly trains. 

 Gauge conversion

Podanur residents pin hopes on the completion of the gauge conversion in the Podanur – Pollachi –Udumalpet – Palani section, so that there will be a couple of passenger trains and express trains towards southern districts that would be operated with a stoppage at Podanur Junction. Even the trains recently diverted trains via Coimbatore continue to have a stoppage at Podanur as per the reservation system and residents wish that the status continues.

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