The track was converted for a distance of 40 km at a cost of Rs.340 crore
COIMBATORE: After nearly a wait for eight years, the first passenger special train commenced its maiden journey from Coimbatore Junction (SR’s Salem Division in Tamil Nadu) to Pollachi (SR’s Palakkad Division in Kerala) on the new BG line.
Train services on the Coimbatore – Pollachi – Udumalpet – Palani – Madurai meter gauge section was suspended in 2009 and the works for converting the same into broad gauge line commenced in 2010. This marked the serving of rail connectivity for the Western Tamil Nadu with Southern Tamil Nadu. Very few services were ran through Erode – Karur – Tiruchi/Dindigul – Madurai section.
The gauge conversion work first suffered fund constraints and then litigations relating to land acquisition and it went on for nearly six years, after which the works suffered a jolt when the railways had to cut through a rocky terrain for four km stretch. Finally, the works were completed early this year and the Commissioner Rail Safety inspection was also done and the track was declared fit for resumption of services.
The track between Pollachi and Podanur has been converted from MG to BG for a distance of 40 km at a cost of Rs. 340 crore. 110 bridges, both Road Over Bridge (ROB) and Limited Use Subway (LUS) have been constructed in the new line. There were 37 level crossing gates, both manned and unmanned, in the erstwhile meter gauge section that has been brought down to 14 level crossings now, by construction of ROB and LUS. Of these 14 level crossings, three more are planned to be closed along with single unmanned level crossings within three months, railway sources said.
While the expectations remained high for resumption of the earlier services operated under meter gauge section to begin with the railways using the lie over idle rakes (coaches) and locomotive of the Shoranur – Coimbatore – Thrissur Passenger has now come forward to operate a passenger special train which will leave Coimbatore at 01.35 pm to reach Pollachi at 2.45 pm and in the return direction it would leave Pollachi at 03.05 p.m. and reach Coimbatore at 4.15 pm.
Though the timings are very odd and there is no service during the morning and evening peak hours, this service will be of immense use at a time when the Coimbatore – Pollachi Road is in a very bad shape as a result of the ongoing works to widen and strengthen the Highway.
The new BG line will provide vital rail link from Coimbatore to Southern cities, such as Palani, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Rameswaram and Nagercoil, that will reduce the travelling time to a great extent between Coimbatore and these places.
Between Coimbatore and Pollachi, the train would have stoppages only at Podanur and Kinathukkadavu, while the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Youth Wing Convenor V. Easwaran had been persistently representing for opening of new and revival of erstwhile defunct railway stations en route namely at Chettipalayam, Nallatipalayam, Koilpalayam and Tamaraikulam.
Regular passengers, who are now relying on bus services, pointed out that such a long awaited project could serve more people, if there were trains in the mornings and evenings besides a late night service on either direction. In addition, to connect the pilgrim town, there should be a train from Coimbatore to Palani both in the early mornings and evenings and railways should come forward to operate inter city train service between Coimbatore and Madurai besides an over night train service to Rameswaram.