Southern Railway may have received fair share of funds in the Budget for the coming financial year, but it will need around Rs. 4,000 crore to complete the nine new sanctioned lines on which preliminary work had begun. This includes the Chennai-Cuddalore via Mamallapuram coastal railway line and Sriperumbudur-Guduvancherry line.
Sources said going by the pace at which money is sanctioned for new projects, it may take at least 15 to 20 years before the projects are completed. By then, road connectivity would have improved and railways would have lost passengers to bus transport.
The nine new lines, which account for 865km in all, will need funds. It includes the Chennai-Cuddalore line via Mamallapuram, Sriperambudur-Guduvanchery with branches to Irungattukottai-Avadi-Sriperambudur, Tindivanam-Gingee-Tiruvannamalai , Tindivanam-Nagari, Athipattu-Puttur, Erode-Palani, Madurai-Tuticorin via Aruppukkotai, Morappur-Dharmapuri and Rameshwaram-Dhanuskodi.
The lines were sanctioned over the past 10 to 15 years and costs around Rs. 4,401.2 crore, but so far railways has spent only Rs. 458.99 crore upto March 2020.
A railway official said the ministry would not sanction the full amount but will release only parts of it every year, depending on the progress in the work. "But it will take a long time for the work because land acquisition is slow because the state government is not supportive," he said.
"The Chennai-Cuddalore new line project, biggest among the projects, need to be completed at a war footing. It can be developed as East Coast link from Chennai to Tuticorin, alternate to present congested route via Madurai," said an official. It was surveyed in 2008 and got its final approval after negotiating change of alignment with Puducherry. The new Sriperambudur-Guduvanchery line will be connecting important industrial clusters with trunk routes, which will attract more freight traffic.
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