Foundation Stone for three Rail projects on Southern Railway – doubling and electrification of Madurai-Vanchi Maniyachi-Thoothukudi section; Vanchi Maniyachi-Tirunelveli-Nagercoil section; and Kanyakumari- Thiruvananthapuram Central section- laid at Kanniyakumari on Tuesday.
Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain and Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, along with ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, participated in the function.
The Rs. 3,618-crore projects, covering 349 km in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, will be executed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited.
Once completed, the entire Chennai Egmore-Kanyakumari section will have double lines and facilitate faster and seamless connectivity between Tamil Nadu and Kerala for passenger and freight trains.
The Madurai-Kanyakumari single line is being utilised beyond its capacity and the Southern Railway has constraints in introduction of additional trains on the Chennai-Kanyakumari section, its highest passenger revenue generating sector.
The project was announced in the Railway Budget 2015-16.
However, it could not take off till now due to paucity of funds. Only in August 2017 did the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs cleared the project.
Doubling and electrification of the 86.56-km Thiruvananthapuram Central-Nagercoil Junction-Kanyakumari railway line running through Kerala and Tamil Nadu will cost Rs. 1,431.90-crore.
Work on the bridges in the 5.5-km Nagercoil-Kanyakumari section will commence on Tuesday itself, for which the works were awarded to two contractors.
“As no land acquisition is needed on the stretch, the doubling work will begin after the foundation stone is laid, keeping 2022 as the deadline for commissioning by Railways,” a top construction official told.
The work is being executed under the supervision of the Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Ernakulam. Chennai-based Copco Engineering Pvt Ltd has bagged the bid for the construction of bridges and Erode-based R.S. Developers Pvt Ltd, the earthwork.
42 hectares of land
The project has 15 stations, 394 bridges, 35 level crossings and five tunnels, and for this as much as 42 hectares of land is to be acquired. Of these, 17 hectares is in Kerala and the remaining is in Tamil Nadu.
The 47-km Eraniel-Thiruvananthapuram Central stretch poses a problem, as land acquisition is mainly confined to this corridor spread over the two States. Bids for the works can be floated only after the land acquisition is completed by the two States. The Railways had already submitted the details of the alignment of the second line to be laid to the State and the district administration, the official said.
The State government promised to speed up land acquisition for the project at a high-level meeting convened by K.J. Alphons, Union Minister for Tourism and IT, and attended by Ajit Pandit, additional member, Works, Railway Board, last week in Kochi.
The Union Minister, during the current visit, will also inaugurate the doubling of the 160-km stretch from Madurai Junction to Thoothukudi and the 102-km line from Vanchi Maniyachi to Nagercoil Junction and some passenger amenities, at a function to be held at Nagercoil Junction.