COIMBATORE: Coimbatore, or Kongu region, will not get any new train service nor will suspended services be restored for now, Southern Railway has stated in a reply to RTI petition filed by an activist.
The response has come as a shocker for rail users as seven MPs and six MLAs, 190 associations, 20 Panchayat resolutions and over 2000 online signatures campaigns urged Railways to to improve connectivity with southern districts.
Besides submitting petitions to officials several times, the elected representatives had met Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Chairman of Railway board pressing the same demand.
Playing their part, the associations had written to GM of Southern Railway, chairman of Railway Board, Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) of Madurai, Salem and Palakkad seeking restoration of services to southern districts from Coimbatore that was operated a decade ago via Kinathukkadvu and Pollachi.
Further, the RTI reply revealed that 11 new trains and extension of some services have been proposed between Tambaram and Sengottai, and operation of a bi-weekly express between Erankulam and Velankanni. But there is no mention of restoring trains from Coimbatore to Rameswaram and operating new services from Mettupalayam to Tiruchendur.
K Sivamohan, secretary of welfare association of rail passengers Pollachi, said more than ₹1500 crore has been spent on gauge conversion and electrification of Podanur-Pollachi and Palakkad -Dindigul sections, but the former route is not used regularly.
"Out of 11 new and extension of trains, eight trains were proposed and extended to benefit people in Kerala . This has disappointed people in Coimbatore, Kinathukkadavu and Pollachi. Our main demand is restoration of trains that were operated a decade ago when Coimbatore to Pollachi section was not converted into broad gauge," said Sivamohan
Speaking to TNIE J Sathish a member of DRUCC and a member of Infrastructure Committee of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said "Coimbatore and Madurai are important cities in Tamil Nadu. The State government has set a target of reaching One trillion economy in 2030. Though economic opportunities are abundant in Coimbatore, it depends on the workforce from southern districts. The lack of connectivity between the districts will be an impediment to the State's growth projection . Besides the labour force, southern districts hold a lot of tourism potential."
Reacting to the RTI reply, MP Natarajan said they would form an umbrella body of all rail user and passenger associations and stage protest highlighting their demands.