TN gauge conversion project moves forward
Southern Railway has made progress on its Rs 702-crore
project involving gauge conversion of 357 km railway line on the
Quilon-Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur and Tenkasi-Virudhunagar routes in Tamil Nadu.
Work on the longest stretch of 72 km between Tenkasi and Tirunelveli is expected
to start soon with a contract recently placed on a consortium of Mumbai-based
Atlanta Ltd and Orissa-headquartered ARSS Infrastructure Projects Ltd.
Speaking to Projectmonitor, a senior official of Southern Railways (Construction
Division) said that only the 49-km section between Punalur and Sengottai now
remained to be taken up. The cost estimate of Rs 347 crore was recently
approved, he said. Since the stretch has many tunnels en route, construction
work could be challenging. Although the final location survey has been
completed, work could begin only after "some decisions" on project
implementation were taken, he added without elaboration.
The 357-km project was sanctioned in March 1998 at an estimated cost of Rs 280
crore that has now moved up to Rs 702 crore. For reasons ranging from
topographical difficulties, delays in land acquisition and tardiness on part of
contractors, the project has seen some time overrun. Discussing the recent
progress, the official said that the 61-km stretch between Tirunelveli and
Tiruchendur has been completed, albeit with a delay of nearly two years, and so
has the 8-km Sengottai-Tenkasi section that involved laying of mixed-gauge track
The 45-km Quilon-Punalur line has been affected by land acquisition problems, he
said. The project was originally scheduled for completion by March 2007, but it
has not been able to meet even its revised completion date of March 2008. The
Tamil Nadu state government has been approached to resolve land-related issues,
it is learnt.
The overall project saw its first segment completed when the 52-km
Virudhunagar-Rajapalayam line was opened to traffic in June 2003. Following the
commissioning of the onward Rajapalayam-Tenkasi link in September 2004, the
entire 121-km Virudhunagar-Tenkasi line became operational. The overall project
falls under the Madurai division, one of the five such of the
Chennai-headquartered Southern Railways.
[October 27-November 2, 2008]