Resumption of the Cholan Express from Tiruchi to Chennai Egmore in the main line section after a gap of several years has gladdened travellers in the delta region. They now have a direct connectivity to the State capital without having to travel via Tiruchi.
The re-introduction of the Cholan Express, also called as the ‘Day Express’, following completion of gauge conversion work in the 122-kilometre stretch from Villupuram – Mayiladuthurai, makes it the second originating train from Tiruchi to Chennai Egmore next only to the Pallavan Super Fast Express.
The day-time train facility starting at 9.10 a.m. at Tiruchi Junction and reaching the destination at 5.15 p.m. suits best the travellers from Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and Mayiladuthurai.
While the resumption of the train service has come in as a great relief to the travellers in the delta region, those from Sirkazhi and surroundings are disappointed as there is no stoppage at that station.
A Southern Railway press release issued on April 23 said the Cholan Express (Train No. 6854) will stop at Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Mayiladuthurai, Chidambaram, Cuddalore Port Junction, Villupuram, Melmaruvattur and Chengalpattu railway stations.
Residents of Sirkazhi say the Cholan Express used to halt at Sirkazhi railway station and Vaitheeswaran Koil while it was being operated in the metre gauge line earlier. Their contention is that the non-stoppage of the same train now in the newly converted broad gauge line defies logic.
Sirkazhi being an important pilgrim spot in Nagapattinam district linking various other pilgrim spots such as Thiruvenkadu, one of the nine Navagraha sthalams; Thirunaangur, one of the Divya Desams; and Vaitheeswaran Koil, another Navagraha sthalam, the town that attracts a large number of devotees is a transit point even for tourist spots like Poompuhar.
A lot of fishermen from the coastal villages like Pazhayar and Pudupattinam situated a few kilometres away from Sirkazhi depend on rail for transportation of their catch.
Further, Sirkazhi is an assembly constituency and a taluk headquarter with two panchayat unions. A unanimous resolution was adopted by the Sirkazhi Municipality a few months back demanding the stoppage of all trains at Sirkazhi, says Era. Ponmudi, secretary of Tamizhai Isai Moovar Peravai at Sirkazhi.
Copies of the resolution had been forwarded to the Railway Minister, Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, and the Tiruchi divisional railway authorities besides Members of Parliament of Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai Lok Sabha seats, he adds.
“We are not asking for something new. What we seek from the railway authorities is continuation of the facility we had been enjoying over the years for the benefit of the general public, traders, devotees and fishermen”, says S.K.R. Sivasubramanian, vice president of the Nagapattinam District Chamber of Commerce.
Residents also feel that if the train were to stop at Sirkazhi they need not go all the way to Mayiladuthurai or Chidambaram to board the express train.