CHENNAI: The completion of 30-km broad gauge third line between Tambaram and Chengalpattu will ease congestion on the Southwestern suburban route. The Chennai-bound express trains from Southern districts which are delayed due to track unavailability between Chengalpattu and Tambaram will also most likely be speeded up once the new line is thrown open.
As the two tracks between Tambaram and Chengalpattu exceeded 100 per cent utilisation, the railways proposed to develop lines three and four in 2010, works for which commenced in 2015 at a cost of Rs 256 crore. The work was expected to be completed by February 2017 but faced hurdles owing to issues in track alignment as the third line passes through road overbridge at multiple places. The new line was proposed to run close to the pillar of the six-lane road overbridge at Vandalur station, violating safety norms. The railways safety guidelines mandate 2.36m distance between track centre and permanent structures.
In July 2018, seven footboard travellers were killed after hitting the concrete wall abutting the third line at St Thomas Mount station, in two different incidents.Delay in land acquisition also played a part in slowing down works. The 11-km new line in Guduvancheri - Singaperumalkoil section was completed and thrown open on October 30, 2020. Similarly, the 8-km track between Singaperumalkoil and Chengalpattu was cleared for operation by the Commissioner of Railway Safety on March 6.
Besides speeding up express trains, the new line will facilitate increasing suburban services during peak hours. As many as 23 daily express specials and seven weekly specials run through Tambaram - Chengalpattu. While most superfast trains cover the 30-km distance in 28 minutes, Tiruchy - Chennai Egmore Cholan Special takes 38 minutes while Puducherry - Chennai Egmore special takes 33 minutes.
Nagercoil - Tambaram tri-weekly and Nagercoil - Tambaram specials each were given a travel time of 50 minutes with Tambaram and Chengalpattu. S Shankar, a rail enthusiast said, “Whenever we demand new services during peak hours, the railways reject it due to insufficient infrastructure. Since colleges have reopened, peak hour services between Beach and Chengalpattu should be increased,”
A railway official said, “Decision of increasing suburban services will be taken depending on the patronage after getting due approval from the railway board.”
To facilitate engineering maintenance, the railways cancelled services in Chennai - Chengalpattu section on September 12 and 19. Chennai Beach -Tambaram Workmen special leaving Chennai Beach and Tambaram - Chennai Beach Workmen special leaving Tambaram at 10.50 am are fully cancelled on September 12 and 17. The Beach - Tambaram/Chengalpattu/Arakkonam Workmen specials leaving Beach is partially cancelled on September 12 and 19.