In the age of smart cities and new metro rail lines being the latest trend, the Southern Railway has been a sleeping giant over the past eight years in Tamil Nadu and has been ducking over on projects proposed way back in 2006 for which even surveys and initial funds were allocated.
The common answer from railway authorities is that new lines are not commercially viable and this also applies to the Mayiladuthurai-Thirunallar-Karaikal a potential line that supports tourism and pilgrimage and a long pending demand of delta farmers and pilgrimages thronging the historical temples located along the Cauvery river basin.
“The Pattali Makkal Katchi, which had two ministers of state for railways in the recent past had also been insisting on Chennai -Puducherry line via Mamallapuram along east coast road and the incomplete Chennai Beach-Velachery-Alandur mass rapid transit system project is also a classic example, but there is no progress,” said a railway source attached to the Southern Railway Sangh. With the state not having a representation in the Union railway ministry and the scrapping up of railway budget, there is no transparency and the political pressure on the railway ministry seeking projects for TN, the insider added.
According to Arupathy P. Kalyanam, organiser, Mayiladuthurai-Tharangambadi Train Restoration Committee, the railway authorities have failed to realise the traffic potential along these lines connecting delta districts that support tourism and pilgrimage. Rail passengers and Delta farmers urge the speedy construction of the railway lines and from Tharangambadi, Thirunallar is just an 11-kilometre new route that needs land acquisition.
In his letter to Union railway minister Kalyanam also pointed out that from Thirunallar, Karaikal is just a 6-kilometre stretch and that is now being implemented under Peralam-Karaikal link for which the work is already in progress. Further by implementing this project, the railways will have a full Cauvery delta circular rail link connecting Thanjavur-Kumbakonam-Mayiladuthurai-Tharangambadi-Karaikkal-Nagapattinam-Thiruvarur-Thanjavur covering a stretch 213 kilometre connecting major Hindu, Muslim and Christian pilgrimage centres with high traffic potential, the letter added.