CHENNAI: The ambitious plan to convert the Velachery-Beach MRTS stretch into a Metro Rail stretch will take at least two more years since the legal hurdles are hampering the completion of the pending MRTS stretch between Velachery and St Thomas Mount.
If executed, the plan will enable the city residents to take the Metro Rail from Koyambedu upto any station along the Beach-Velachery stretch after a changeover at Mount. Since the MRTS stretch from Velachery to Beach already has the basic infrastructure, what is required to convert it into a Metro Rail was replacing the tracks. But that project could be taken up only if the extension of the MRTS stretch from Velachery to St Thomas Mount happens and thus connecting it to the existing Metro Rail network from Koyambedu to Airport.
The MRTS stretch was being operated by the Southern Railway since 2008. But the stretch has been mostly unpopular with very less patronage due to various reasons.
In 2013, it was first mooted that the Southern Railway could hand over the MRTS stretch to the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) to make it more popular and integrated transport network.
Despite both sides arriving at a consensus on the idea, railway officials said the delay was due to a pending litigation in the court over compensation to the owners of the land acquired for the extension from Velachery to St Thoman Mount.
The land owners are seeking revised compensation under the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 as against the old 1984 land acquisition act. The extension of the MRTS stretch was scheduled to be completed by December 2016, but delayed due to the pending litigation.
Speaking to Express, a top railway official said, “Once the court gives its final judgement and compensation is awarded to the land owners, the pending stretch can be finished in 18 months. Following this, the MRTS network can be handed over to CMRL.”