CHENNAI: The construction of the long-delayed 184.45-km railway line project between Tindivanam and Nagari is set to commence full swing this year, with the development of the 70.5-km broad gauge line from Nagari to Ranipettai to be taken up during the first phase. Official sources said the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh governments have acquired 81% of the land required for the entire project.
This line project, which has shockingly witnessed little progress since the foundation stone was laid in 2007, was allocated Rs 350 crore in the union government’s recent interim budget and Rs 200 crore last year.
Sources from the construction wing of the Southern Railway said about 33 km of new line will be constructed this year from Nagari-Podatturpettai (13 km) and Walajah Road-Sholinghur town (20 km) stretches, for which tenders are being finalised.
“Out of the 184.45 km, about 6.5 km of the new line from Walajah Road to Ranipet was developed using Rs 20 crore allocated in 2008 and was opened for goods traffic in November 2020. Soon, work for the 28.5-km line from Podatturpettai to Sholingur will also be taken up. Eventually, we will have a new line from Nagari to Ranipet (70.5 km) in a few years,” said an official.
In addition to providing a connection to Puducherry via Tindivanam, the new line originating from Tindivanam on the Chennai Egmore-Villupuram line intersects the Chennai-Katpadi line at Walajah station and culminates at Nagari, linking with the Chennai Central-Tirupati railway line. “The line project will contribute to transformation in rail network as passenger and goods trains can be diverted easily from all three congested lines,” said train enthusiast S Rajasekaran of Katpadi.
The last new single rail line commissioned in Tamil Nadu was on the Tirunelveli-Nagercoil-Kanniyakumari stretch in 1981. Nearly four decades later, the interior parts of the state’s northern region comprising Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvallur, Ranipet and Villupuram districts will receive a new line, thereby boosting connectivity to Chennai and the rest of the country.
The new line runs for 175.11 km in TN and 9.34 km in Andhra’s Chittoor district.
“The total land requirement for this project is 726.59 hectares of area, out of which acquisition has been completed for 594.10 hectares, and as many as 510.45 hectares have been handed over to Railways,” said a senior railway official.
The official added that the Railways has already provided Rs 561.45 crore to the TN government and Rs 15.7 crore to the AP government towards land acquisition.
According to the plan, the line would pass over the Cheyyar and Palar rivers, Chennai-Tindivanam NH, Chennai-Bengaluru NH and several four-lane highways. The project cost, which was initially estimated at Rs 498 crore in 2007, soared to Rs 582.83 in July 2008.
“As of January 29 this year, the sanctioned revised estimate stands at a whopping Rs 3,631.34 crore,” added the official.