Train to Madurai is talk of the town

The facade of brand new railway station in Theni.

The facade of brand new railway station in Theni.

The train to Madurai has created a buzz in Theni district. People everywhere are talking about the new train. They are excited to travel in the comfort of a train after more than a decade — the last service of Madurai-Bodi train on metre gauge track was operated on December 31, 2010.

The brand new Theni station, waiting to receive the unreserved Madurai-Theni express train from Friday, was decked up on Thursday evening to receive former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his son and Theni MP O P. Raveendhranath. They attended the function when Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally inaugurated the broad gauge line through video conference in Chennai.

The erstwhile goods shed on the northern side of Theni station has given way for loop lines. According to K. Murugadoss of Theni Murugan Tex near old bus stand, the approach road to the station from Periyakulam Road used to be 100 feet wide. Now vehicles have to squeeze through a narrow road because of rampant encroachments. 

He says Theni district holds immense potential for running trains to Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore. ‘’There are 83 omni buses to these places from towns in Theni district. People prefer the comfort of train as it has toilets, much-needed for diabetics, children and aged people,” he says.

Even if a train with a full complement of AC coaches is run, it will have good patronage as business people and youngsters working in IT companies do not mind paying ₹1,800 to travel in a sleeper bus to Chennai. Times have changed. Comfort is paramount now as people have more disposable income, he says.

The freight potential is also huge. “It takes only 3 to 4 days for a shipment from Mumbai to reach Theni by rail while it takes a week by road. It is cheaper too,” he says.

With work on the small stretch of Theni-Bodi under way, times are not far off when cardamom and coffee beans consignments will pour in from the hills bordering Kerala. There used to be a time when the smell of cardamom would waft from the hundreds of gunny bags waiting to be despatched from platforms 4 and 5 of Madurai junction.

S. Srinivasan of Janab Tex says Madurai train will also have good patronage from office-goers as it is cheap and fast.

P. Marimuthu, an autorickshaw driver, says if the road on the goods shed side of Theni station is properly laid, it will provide a link to the bypass on the Dindigul-Kumily highway for those coming from Periyakulam, Chinnamanur, Cumbum and Idukki district in Kerala.

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 9:22:07 pm |