Southern Railway writes to Board

S. Vydhianathan

Plea to consider doubling of Chengalpattu-Tuticorin BG line

CHENNAI: Southern Railway has written to the Railway Board, urging it to consider doubling of the Chengalpattu-Tuticorin broad gauge line and conversion of the Mayiladuthurai-Karaikudi section via Tiruvarur, in the railway budget.

While the Chengalpattu-Villupuram and the Dindigul-Madurai BG lines in the Chengalpattu-Tuticorin section has been cleared for doubling, the zone wants the Board to sanction the rest of the broad gauge track too, according to a top Southern Railway official.

Special case

Normally, the Board sanctions doubling projects only if there is heavy freight traffic. Though there is not much freight movement between these two points, Southern Railway wants the Board to consider this as a special case in view of the increasing passenger traffic between Chennai and Tuticorin.

Railway authorities here expect the Board to clear the conversion of the Mayiladuthurai-Karaikudi (187 km) metre gauge section in the coming budget as Railway Minister Lalu Prasad had assured Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi that the project would be given preference. If this section is converted, then the only portion remaining to be converted in Tamil Nadu will be the Madurai-Bodi metre gauge line.

The authorities hope the zone will get sufficient funds in the budget for various ongoing projects.

Before the current final year, the zone will complete conversion of the Vridhachalam-Salem, Tiruchi-Kariakudi, and Manamadurai-Rameswaram sections.

Conversion work on the Pamban bridge, a part of the Manamadurai-Rameswaram section, is almost over. Trial run will commence soon. Once completed, Rameswaram will have direct BG connection with other parts of the country.

Other projects, which are expected to get more funds, are the Dindigul-Pollachi-Coimbatore and the Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai conversion projects, third and fourth lines for suburban services between Chennai and Athipet and electrification of the Villupuram-Tiruchi broad gauge line.

Regarding extension of mass rapid transit system from Velacheri to St.Thomas Mount, the authorities say the Board has cleared it. But, Tamil Nadu has not given financial sanction.

The State Government has agreed to bear two-third cost of the project.