TAMIL NADU

Chennai-Madurai `Shatabdi' coming

TIRUCHI NOV. 9. The Railways proposes to introduce a `shatabdi' express on the Chennai-Madurai sector as a Pongal gift to the people of the State.

Also a new express would be operated between Karur and Chennai via Tiruchi from year-end, the Minister of State for Railways, A. K. Moorthy, said.

Speaking to presspersons on board an inspection special, operated between Chennai and Tiruchi, this evening, Mr. Moorthy said that while the Shatabdi concept was a big hit in other States, it had not caught the imagination of the people in Tamil Nadu. The main reason advanced for the failure of this service was the prohibitive ticket fare. But the fare included the catering too, he said.

The Railways was also thinking of reviving the Coimbatore-Chennai shatabdi service, withdrawn due to poor patronage.

Following demands from devotees, it has also been proposed to introduce a direct train between Chennai and Ajmer once a week.

The frequency of the weekly Kanyakumari-Nizamudeen express via Madurai and Tiruchi, introduced recently, would be increased if there was good patronage.

Of the more than one lakh railway bridges in the country, 500 major bridges were considered `distressed' and needed immediate renovation. A sum of Rs. 9 crores had been allocated for renovation of 13 such bridges, including three in Tamil Nadu. While two bridges to be renovated were on the Coimbatore-Mettupalayam sector, the other one was near the Chennai Central station. Work would commence soon, Mr. Moorthy said.

Referring to the BG conversion of the Vriddhachalam-Cuddalore track, the Minister said work on the Vriddhachalam-Vadalur sector would be completed by March and work on the Vadalur-Cuddalore sector would be taken up next year.

Mr. Moorthy, accompanied by the Chief Engineer, Southern Railway, R. Sundararajan, the Chief Engineer (bridges), Sriram, the Chief Engineer (general), S. Vijayakumar, and the Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi, N. S. Kasthurirangan, inspected various bridges.

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