Tiruvarur-Karaikudi gauge conversion proposal gets impetus

Posted on February 12, 2012

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Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram in a recent letter to Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has requested for the inclusion of the Tiruvarur-Tiruturaipundi-Karaikudi metre gauge conversion works in this year’s Railway Budget.

The metre gauge line will be the last gauge-conversion project for Southern Railway, given that the heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railway will not be converted. An important link during the era of metre gauge railway in the State, formal announcement for its conversion is awaited. According to the letter, of which a copy is available with The Hindu, work has been sanctioned, final location survey has been completed and detailed estimates have been prepared.

The Home Minister has also sought an appraisal on the current status of the long impending project. Mr.Chidambaram was aware of the developments until July 2011. “I shall be grateful if you could kindly let me know the current status of the project; when sanction will be given; and when the work will be taken up,” said Mr.Chidambaram in the letter. A copy of the letter was marked to Southern Railway General Manager, Deepak Krishan.

A Karaikudi-bound passenger awaits signal clearance at Tiruturaipundi. Photo: MVL Manikantan

“I shall also be grateful if you could kindly include this proposal in your budget,” he writes, ending the letter. Tiruchi Divisional Railway Manger P.V.Vaidialingam, said, detailed cost estimates have been sent to the Railway Ministry and Board. The project is expected to be executed at a cost in excess of Rs.700 crore. A highly placed source has pointed out there is slim chance for the project to get an approval due to paucity of funds. “Already the Tiruchi-Thanjavur doubling has been sanctioned, given the financial stability of the railways it is unlikely that this project will get the nod,” the source said. Patronage was moderate for the two passenger and express trains until bus fares were hiked, said Mr.Vaidialingam.

But now the carriages run to the brim with office-goers, labourers and students making the best of the inexpensive fares. Earlier, salt from Vedaranyam (the railhead being Agasthiampalli branching from Tiruturaipundi) and agriculture produce from the region was transported to all parts of the State through its well networked metre gauge system, said N.Vengusamy, a retired Block Development Officer. Mr.Chidamabaram hails from Kandanur in the Chettinad region, whose nearest railhead: Kandanur-Puduvayal is part of the line, which counts among the very few functional metre gauge routes in the country.

The line, if converted, will form part of the shortest route, from Chennai, to Rameswaram, Sivaganga, Manamadurai and the Chettinad belt and widen the congested-rail network in the State. The letter comes in wake of representations from Adiramapattinam Rural Development Association and other consumer forums, public and political bodies. Petitions have also been submitted to the Tiruchi Divisional Railway Manager and Southern Railway General Manager.

Copyright –  The Hindu

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