Monday, Oct 21, 2002
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Though the project has been included as a material modification of the ongoing Tambaram - Beach suburban conversion, the Board may not give its final clearance, according to railway sources.
Even the Southern Railway administration is not in favour of the project and a few months ago it wrote to the Board listing the reasons.
Apart from being unviable, the rate of return on the project is expected to be less than one per cent as against the minimum requirement of 15 per cent.
On any day, only a few hundred long-distance passengers, who get down at Chennai Egmore, go to Central and vice versa. For them, road transport facilities are more than sufficient. In fact, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation withdrew its point-to-point service between Central and Egmore a few months ago owing to poor patronage. This being the case, where was the need for a rail link between the two terminals, that too at a heavy cost, ask the sources.
A few years ago such a link was felt necessary when passengers bound for destinations to the north from the south had to undergo the ordeal of transhipment, as there was no direct service. Now cities such as Nagercoil, Tirunelveli, Madurai and Tiruchi have direct services to major cities in the north.
Referring to the Railway Minister, A.K.Moorthy's recent suggestion for a surface link instead of an elevated track between the two stations cutting the Poonamallee High Road, railway officials said that it was impracticable. Surface link on a busy road such as the Poonamallee High Road was not possible, unless traffic was suspended for more than a year for constructing an overbridge. As suspension of the traffic would lead to chaos, the State Government would not agree to the proposal. Moreover, the overbridge would obstruct the view of the Ripon Building and Central Station, two major landmarks in the city, which would raise strong objections from the public.
However, as the Minister had given instructions, officials are getting the drawings for the surface link ready. Only after the drawings are completed, the actual cost and the alignment could be determined, they added.
Instead of sinking money in this `unviable' project, it could be utilised for quadrupling the Chennai-Arakkonam line and providing an additional line on the Chennai-Gummudipundi section. With ever-increasing commuter traffic on these sections, the State Government would be willing to share the project cost, they added.
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