Considering the increase in the number of train services from Puducherry railway station, the work for providing fourth passenger railway line with a platform has begun by extending the VIP platform to the station building. The existing 75 metres VIP sliding is being extended by 240 metres to the station building for operating passenger trains.
The new passenger parking line capable of parking 10 coaches is being laid at a cost of around Rs 35 lakh including electrification. The work which commenced on July 10 is scheduled to be completed in six months, sources said.
Since it is a shorter line, only daily passenger trains to Villupuram and Chennai and Tirupathi are likely to be operated from this platform.
To fulfil the need for another passenger line, the railways had planned to convert the goods line to a passenger one. But it met with opposition from the Food Corporation of India. The matter is slated to be discussed at a meeting scheduled on July 18.
In the meantime, the railways had taken the decision to convert the VIP siding which was hardly used and remained idle into a passenger line with a platform instead of winding up the goods line. This was decided after the Railway Projects Coordination Committee made a strong plea for extension of the VIP line into a passenger platform as an alternative and Union Minister of State for PMO V Narayanasamy pressed for it. Once this becomes a reality, the conversion of goods line into passenger platform may not be necessary, said sources.
Currently, there are six weekly trains to Bhuvaneswar, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mangalore, Bangalore and Kanyakumari, triweekly Chalukya Express to Mumbai and daily express trains to Chennai. Besides, there are passenger trains to Tirupathi, Chennai and Villupuram.
The maximum rush is on Wednesdays when the weekly trains leave Puducherry for destinations. On an average the station caters to around 5,000 passengers on Wednesdays and around 2,500 on other days, said official sources.
In addition to this the Andhra Mahasabha has sought extension of Sarkar Express to Puducherry so that Puducherry gets directly connected with Yanam region of the UT. The Mahasabha has also sought rail connectivity with Secunderabad (Kachiguda) via Kurnool. There has been demands from Rajasthan Welfare Association and Gujarat Samaj to introduce trains for connecting Puducherry with the north west. Under the circumstances the need for expansion of the railway station has been felt, sources added.
However, the laying of the new line led to the demolition of the pay and use toilet block, which was constructed some three years ago. This brings to the fore the deficiency in planning and the wastage of public funds.