VELLORE: Thousands of people’s holiday plans are affected as train services between Chennai, Karnataka, and Kerala, among other places, will remain disrupted on Saturday and Sunday. While 22 express trains have been cancelled, the routes of six others have been shortened.
This is because traffic on a British-era railway bridge near Katpadi has been suspended since Thursday, after a crack was noticed on one of the bridge’s pillars. The 156-year-old bridge across the Ponnai River at Tiruvalam was damaged in the heavy rains in November. The structure forms part of one of the busiest routes in the Chennai division.
Among the trains cancelled are those from Chennai Central to Mysuru, KSR Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Coimbatore, Mettupalayam (Nilgiri Express), Erode (Yercaud Express), and Jolarpettai, said a press release from the Southern Railway.
Daily commuters too, including industrial workers, daily-wage labourers, and students from Vellore, Jolarpettai, Tirupathur, Katpadi and Ambur, who travel to Chennai, have been affected. Hundreds of workers are toiling to restore normalcy at the earliest. A team of technical experts from the Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC-CSIR) inspected the bridge on Friday, with Shri Ganesh, divisional railway manager, Chennai.
Other bridges too are being inspected: Railway officials
“The water in the Ponnai is diverted since it is impeding the restoration work. The engineers are not only examining the damaged spot but the whole bridge. We are also inspecting other railway bridges. Only short-trip trains are cancelled,” said Ganesh. A Railway official told TNIE on Friday the bridge will be restored within two days, and trains will be diverted through the Gudur Town Railway Station and Villupuram Junction.
Traffic on the bridge, between Mukundarayapuram and Tiruvalam stations, was suspended in the Arakkonam-Katpadi section. While some trains were fully cancelled, some were diverted, regulated and handled on a single line (track), and the routes of others were shortened.
Ashok Kumar, who works at an educational institution in Vellore, said, “It takes more than two-and-a-half hours to travel from Arakkonam to Katpadi by bus. By train, it only takes an hour. I’ll now have to use my bike to reach my office on time.”
Fully cancelled train services
The list of trains that will not be in service on December 25 to December 26: 12007, 12008, 12243, 12244, 22625, 22626, 12027, 12028, 22649, 22650, 12695, 12696, 22637, 22638, 16085, 16086, 16089, 16090, 06033,06034, 12671, 12672
Partially cancelled trains
Trains from Mysuru to Chennai Central (12610), KSR Bengaluru to Chennai Central (Lalbagh Express - 12608) and Coimbatore to Chennai (12680) will be terminated at Katpadi