Proposed Karaikal-Peralam line to boost freight traffic

Posted on December 24, 2011

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My article for the Tiruchi City Edition of  The Hindu on December 21,2011

Passenger rail services to Karaikal resumed after a prolonged period of around 24 years recently when Union Minister of State for Railways K.H.Muniyappa flagged off the hitherto Nagore –Chennai Kamban Express last week.

But, for the Tiruchi Division of Southern Railway, Karaikal has been a golden revenue pocket since January 2010, thanks to the MARG Karaikal Port.

The port, strategically located on the central part of Tamil Nadu‘s coastline, has a dedicated railway siding bifurcating from Nagore to a distance of nearly 6 kilometres.

The maiden goods consignment was despatched from the port on January 27, 2010.

With freight traffic gradually increasing, a proposal for connectivity to Peralam from Karaikal has been forwarded to the Railway Ministry. Located on the Mayiladuthurai-Tiruvarur section, which is undergoing gauge conversion, Peralam once had meter gauge-connectivity to Karaikal.

“The revenue from the port accounts for about 40 per cent of the division’s freight earnings,” said P.V.Vaidialingam, Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi.

The port has till date contributed over Rs.230 crore approximately to the railway coffers according to P.Jeyachandran, Head-Railways, MARG Karaikal Port.

Until the port began its operations, the primary avenues of freight revenue for the railway included paddy from the Delta belt, cement and gypsum from the factories in Ariyalur, lignite transport to Neyveli.

During 2009-10, Tiruchi Division earned Rs.391 crore, with the port giving business of Rs.3.37 crore for the last three months.

The earning jumped to Rs.531 crore in 2010-11, with a big a chunk of revenue worth Rs.125.44 crore coming in from the port. For 2011-2012, revenue of Rs.581 crore is expected to be raked in by the division in which Rs.184.38 crore will be from the port. Up to November, Rs.104.38 crore has been received from the port.

Earlier this year, Tiruchi’s Golden Rock Diesel Loco Shed was allotted modern 4000 horse power-EMD locomotives to haul the increasing goods traffic from the port.

Currently, freight traffic to the North goes via Tiruvarur – Tiruchi – Karur – Erode – Salem.

This can be diverted through Peralam, Cuddalore, Vridhachalam, Salem, which will ease traffic on the busy Tiruvarur – Thanjavur –Tiruchi section, said Captain Prasad Rebela, Senior Vice President, Operations, MARG Karaikal Port.

An official of the port also felt that the freight operations were being hampered due to passenger train movement. The introduction of the Peralam line will facilitate more freight movement. Around five trains a day can function in the current line, but through Peralam, around 15 freight trains can be operated, felt the official. Recently, passengers of a Tiruvarur-Thanjavur passenger train staged a rail-roko after they were put in the loop line to allow multiple goods trains to pass.

The railway will look to restoring the 25 kilometre-line with the port also willing bear investment costs. “A public-private partnership model might be worked out,” said Mr.Vaidialingam. The line, if materialised, will be a shorter route to Nagapattinam from Chennai when compared to the current route via Tiruvarur.

Copyright, The Hindu.

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Posted in: Indian Railways