A plan to establish a railway terminal at Tondiarpet has come as a shocker for the Tamil Nadu Rail Passengers’ Rights Tribune, which has been spearheading a campaign for about seven years demanding a terminal in neighbouring Royapuram.
“The move to relocate the terminal to Tondiarpet is a ploy to deprive North Chennai of a railway terminal,” alleged A T B Bose, co-convener of the tribune. “The railways want to put the available land at Royapuram to commercial use, instead of constructing a terminal at the (Royapuram) station, which is the third oldest station in the country,” he charged.
The Tondiarpet relocation was floated by railway officials during a meeting of the elected representatives to Parliament, Legislative Assembly and Chennai Corporation with the Southern Railway General Manager in Chennai on Thursday.
The meeting was convened as a follow up to the proposal for undertaking a pre-feasibility study for the development of Royapuram railway station in the railway budget 2012.
According to Bose, several maintenance facilities were set up at Royapuram after the organisation began to raise the terminal issue a few years back. “Following an agitation in 2006, the railways established a loco shed and track maintenance at Royapuram. This was done allegedly to show that adequate land was not available at Royapuram for constructing a terminal,” he claimed.
Moreover, in the past, he said, when the authorities pointed out that the presence of the harbour close to Royapuram would be a hindrance to a railway terminal, we cited the successful functioning of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Howrah railway station in Mumbai and Kolkata respectively, which are situated in the vicinity of harbours.
“Now, they have turned their attention towards Tondiarpet. I agree that Tondiarpet has more land than Royapuram. However, it (Tondiarpet) would be inconvenient for people in Chennai, given its remote location,” Bose stressed.
When contacted, a Southern Railway spokesperson reiterated that no decision had been taken at Thursday’s meetings. Only consequences of the terminal were discussed, the spokesperson said.