VELLORE: The Tamil Nadu Hotels Association has urged Union Railway Minister D V Sadananada Gowda to provide rail link with southern districts from Katpadi by introducing more trains for the benefit of commuters travelling between northern and southern districts.
In a memorandum to the Minister, who visited Vellore on Friday, president of the association M Venkadasubbu said train connectivity to southern districts would improve tourism. The association has suggested introducing trains between Chennai and Nellai, Tirupati and Nellai (both via Katpadi), Tirupati and Kanyakumari, Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Bangalore to Kanyakumari (via Katpadi, Tiruvannamalai and Villupuram).
Venkadasubbu pointed out that it was an ordeal for people of northern districts to travel to southern districts to places like Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi and other major towns. Lakhs of people travel between northern and southern regions of TN, and they are suffering from the lack of direct rail connectivity. As a result, they are forced to resort to long night journeys in buses, he said.
Many important places such as Sivakasi (also known as “Kutti Japan” or small Japan), and pilgrimage centres of Rameswaram and Kanyakumari are not connected to any district in north. Families from Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Madurai districts, who are settled in northern districts find it extremely difficult to travel to their native places, he pointed out.
“While Katpadi is connected by rail to Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Guwahati in the East, Ahmadabad and Mumabi in the west, sadly there is no connectivity to Madurai and Kanyakumari in the south within the same state and travellers are left in a lurch. Previously two trains were operated from Chennai to Kanyakumari and another one from Chennai to Madurai via Katpadi. The Meenakshi express that was plying between Madurai and Tirupati and Alleppey express (via Katpadi) were cancelled as soon as the conversion of broad gauge line in Villupuram was completed. Though there are nearly seven trains plying from Chennai to Southern districts via Villupuram, but there are no trains via Katpadi,” he lamented.
Public protests following the cancellation landed on deaf ears and some people were arrested when they tried to block trains. Many letters to officials concerned went unanswered. If these train services were re-introduced, it would help the general public, he pointed out.