मदुरै Madurai (MDU): In 2011-12, when the Union railway budget was presented, it was announced that a new railway line would be established between Madurai and Tuticorin via Aruppukottai, but since then, the proposal failed to materialise due to paucity of funds. Trade and industrial associations are urging the railway ministry to allocate funds for the new line as they feel that it would greatly benefit freight movement as the present section through Vanchi Maniachi is congested and the second stretch could be effectively utilised for new trains.
Recently, members of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TNCCI) from Madurai met the railway minister and submitted a memorandum that sought fund allotment for this section also. “Though announced in 2011-12, the project is yet to take off for lack of funds. Implementation of the project should be expedited with sufficient allotment of funds in the forthcoming railway budget. Moreover, the state government should step in facilitating railways in acquiring land,” said N Jegatheesan, president of TNCCI.
S P Jeyapragasam, president of Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants Association Limited said that the new line would stimulate industrial and economic growth in the backward Aruppukottai area. “It will provide train connectivity to Vilathikulam region in Tuticorin district which is very much underdeveloped. As the railways is suffering from fund crunch, necessary funds could be raised through bonds like it was done by the Konkan Railway. The railways could collect surcharge in train fares to pay off bonds when they mature, ” he said.
T R Thamilarasu, treasurer of All India Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Tuticorin said, there were 70 to 80 buses plying from or through Tuticorin to Chennai. “A second line means more trains. In the next 10 to 15 years, Tuticorin is expected to grow bigger especially on the industrial front since it is connected through port, airport and four-way lane. The second line will be very beneficial to absorb this growth,” he said.
Railway officials in Madurai division also acknowledged that the new line between Madurai and Tuticorin is logical and help ease traffic congestion in the present section.