Madurai

Residents long for early completion of Sholavandan railway overbridge

An ambulance got stuck for quite sometime at the railway level crossing at Sholavandan on Thursday.

An ambulance got stuck for quite sometime at the railway level crossing at Sholavandan on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: R_ASHOK

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Office-goers, schoolchildren and patients suffer a lot when the gates of level crossing remain closed

MADURAI

It is 8.25 a.m. and hundreds of school students, two-wheelers, auto-rickshaws and cars anxiously wait on both sides of Madurai- Dindigul electrified double track at Sholavandan. Once Dindigul-Madurai passenger train passes by, the level crossing gates open and the situation becomes chaotic as road users make all kinds of violations to pass through the level crossing. With the siren wailing, an ambulance struggles for around 10 minutes to get past the point.

With around 70 trains crossing Sholavandan railway station every day, traffic bottleneck is a common site on both sides of the double track on Sholavandan-Vadipatti Road. A railway overbridge, intended to ease the congestion, has been under construction since January 2017. The faster completion of the project will help ease the situation, say road users.

Way to Vadipatti

Residents of Sholavandan and around 40 surrounding villages have to necessarily cross the double track to reach Vadipatti. “This is the only way to reach Vadipatti from Sholavandan. So, hundreds of people going to the taluk office, court and panchayat union office at Vadipatti have to cross the track every day,” says I. Silambuselvan, a resident of Sholavandan.

For residents of localities on the other side of the double track, including Pasumpon Nagar and VOC Nagar, this is the only way to reach Sholavandan Government Hospital and other places in the direction of Sholavandan.

With the presence of government and private higher secondary schools on both sides of the station, hundreds of schoolchildren have to cross the railway track every morning and evening on their way to and from their schools.

Road users suffer the most during rush hours in the morning, says P. Selvam, a resident of Vadakattupatti, who frequently commutes through the stretch. “Between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., at least five trains cross the station. Sometimes, vehicles are forced to wait for even 25 minutes,” he says.

Over the years, the number of trains crossing the station and the vehicular traffic on the stretch have increased considerably, says an official posted at Sholavandan railway station. “On an average, around 30 trains cross the station during daytime and 35 trains at night. We close the level crossing gates for a minimum of five minutes each time and hence there is traffic congestion here throughout the day,” says the official.

The traffic congestion makes it tough for at least 500 people, who try to board Dindigul-Madurai passenger train every morning to reach their workplaces, says M. Sainithii, a resident of Double Street Agraharam in Sholavandan. “The train stops at the station for about a minute. In order to catch the train on time, some people even tend to cross the double track,” he says.

Ambulances stuck

Ambulances getting stuck in the level crossing is an everyday occurrence, says Sivakumar, a ‘108’ ambulance driver who transports patients to Sholavandan GH, a major government health facility for the people of the region. “On an average, the level crossing gates are closed for 15 minutes each time a train crosses the station. Once the gates are opened, two-wheeler riders cross the railway tracks at high speed, hardly leaving any space for ambulances. The stretch is also narrow. Hence, vehicles don’t have much space to move to their right,” he says.

With the work on the railway overbridge in progress, buses have been barred from crossing the double track for nearly a year. So, passengers have to cross the double track to board buses plying between Sholavandan and Vadipatti. “How can the elderly and women with heavy luggage cross the double track to board buses?” asks V. Sai Girija, a resident of Sholavandan.

It is disheartening to see the elderly walk for nearly half a kilometre after alighting from the bus to reach the government hospital, says Mr. Sainithii.

It is extremely tough to ride through the mud stretch, which is riddled with potholes and uneven, he adds. “During the rainy season, the stretch becomes slushy and people cannot easily cross this stretch,” he adds.

The overbridge

The major portion of the work on the 700-metre-long railway overbridge, for which ₹17 crore has been allocated, has been completed, says an official of the State Highways Department.

However, there is a delay in completing the construction due to legal issues over land acquisition.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 1:21:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/residents-long-for-early-completion-of-sholavandan-railway-overbridge-madurai/article30108490.ece

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