Southern Railway gets more funds for Infrastructure Projects in Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI: Compared to last year, Tamil Nadu has received 40% more money to carry out railway infrastructure and passenger-friendly projects. Southern Railway general manager Vashishta Johri said Tamil Nadu received a total outlay of Rs.2,287 crore in the budget against Rs.1,638 Crore in 2016-17 while Kerala received Rs.1,206 Crore against Rs.1,014 Crore last year.

“The budget outlay and allocation have increased. The details of the projects for which money has been allocated will be known after two days,” he said.

The zone is carrying forward infrastructure work to improve stations, enhance passenger safety and improve cleanliness. This includes a project to redevelop Chennai Central railway station, which is one of the oldest stations in the country, as part of a station redevelopment programme mooted by the railway ministry. Chennai and Calicut will be commercially developed. “We have identified 42 acres of land around Central for redevelopment under the ministry’s station redevelopment programme. The land that railways no longer needs has been earmarked for development of the station. Bids are ready and will be floated soon. This is under phase I of the project,” he added.

A feasibility study has already been done by Rites. The project involves making the most of the airspace over the station. A senior railway official said that passenger flow will be on the ground floor while a multi-storeyed building will be built to exploit the space over the stations and its surroundings. The plan is to boost non-operational revenue. This is likely to be taken up by the Railway Land Development Authority which is presently working to develop built-up and air spaces at MRTS stations.

Union minister Arun Jaitley said in his budget speech that railways would get Rs.55,000 Crore from the general budget and that the rest that is required should be generated from other sources. Commercial development of stations is considered to be one such avenue.

Johri said railways is ready to start work once allocation details were finalised Morappur-Dharmapuri and Dindigul-Sabarimala lines. “Inspection had been completed for the new lines and a report has been sent to the railway board. Further work will be started once we know the details,” he added. Vashishta Johri also said that doubling work has been completed till Trichy on the Chennai Egmore-Madurai.

Statistics from Southern Railways show that the total outlay had increased by 77% for the period 2014-16 compared to 2009-10 to 201314. This indicates that allocation has shot up considerably in the last two years for the state. There is a 160% increase in allocation when compared to 2009-14 and 2017-18. The state received Rs.878 Crore for 2009-10 to 2013-14 while it received Rs.1,553 Crore in 2014-16 period.

Railways needs money to complete passenger amenities like converting 23 stations into Adarsh stations, installing additional facilities at 36 stations of religious importance and developing three stations in association with the ministry of tourism.

Metro Rail gets a fillip

At a time when metro rail projects including the phase-2 of Chennai metro rail is gaining momentum, general budget allocation for metro projects for the year 2017-18 has seen a rise. A total of Rs.17,810 crores have been allocated in the Union Budget announced as against Rs.15,567.68 crore allocated for the current year including Rs.439 crore for Chennai Metro Rail project. In June 2016, the Centre approved CMRL’s phase-1 extension project estimate to cost Rs.3,770 crore. Of this, the Centre’s share was Rs.713 crore. “Metro rail is emerging as an important mode of urban transportation,” Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said.Jaitley said a metro rail policy will be announced with focus on innovative models of implementation and financing, as well as standardisation and indigenisation of hardware and software.