CHENNAI: A new railway line along East Coast Road between Karaikudi and Kanniyakumari via Thoothukudi, Tiruchendur and Rameswaram has been shelved by the railway board.
However, the 179-km new line proposed between Chennai and Cuddalore via Mamallapuram and Puducherry is likely to get approval next year. Though the survey work for the east coast line was conducted in 2008, the project remained in cold storage for the last few years as the new line was considered unviable by the board. However recently, railways came forward to reconsider its decision if the State government agreed to set up a special purpose vehicle for railway projects.
In an RTI reply to Sreeram of Kanyakumari district railway users' association (KKDRUA) on November 11, the construction wing of Southern Railway, Chennai, has stated that the new line for 560 km connecting various parts in Sivaganga, Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram and Kanniyakumari has been shelved by the board.
The proposed new line projects are Karaikudi-Thoothukudi via Ramanathapuram (214.81 km), Ramanathapuram-Kanniyakumari via Thoothukudi, Tiruchendur and Kudankulam (247.66 km), Tirunelveli-Sankarankoil (77.41 km) and Viranialur- Nagercoil-Chettikulam (20.50 km).
The construction wing had conducted reconnaissance engineering-cum-traffic survey for these new broad gauge lines at different points of time between 2008 and 2013.
Rail users, including businessmen, have been demanding implementation of projects for more than a decade. "The new line may not yield the expected rate of return in the near future. Hence, the project may not be taken anytime soon. Without the State government's support no new line projects will be taken up in the State," a senior railway official said.
However, the 179-km Chennai - Cuddalore new line, via Mamallapuram and Puducherry, is likely to get a new lease of life. "The proposed new line to Cuddalore is to start from Chengalpattu as against Perungudi and a study is being conducted for realignment. The new line is expected to get approval by railways next year," the official said.