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Tuesday, February 27, 2001

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Sufficient funds sought for gauge conversion project

By S. Vydhianathan

CHENNAI, FEB. 26. The Southern Railway has written to the Railway Board and the State Government requesting them to allot sufficient funds in the next three financial years for early completion of the suburban gauge conversion project between Chennai Beach and Tambaram.

The requirement of funds for the year 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 will be approximately Rs.100 crores, Rs.150 crores and Rs.120 crores respectively. The project, which was taken up for execution in 1999, has so far been allotted Rs.85.6 crores as against the total project cost of Rs.520 crores, to be equally shared by railways and the State.

According to Southern Railway sources, the demand for early completion of the project is increasing as inputs into maintenance of Metre Gauge EMUs have almost stopped under the unigauge policy thereby making it difficult to maintain the rakes properly.

Moreover, the commuter traffic has been increasing by leaps and bounds and introduction of BG EMUs is the only solution to the pressing problem. Greater carrying capacity would also give a boost to further housing on this rail corridor.

The project involves conversion of two metre gauge suburban lines between Beach and Tambaram, metre gauge main line between Egmore and Tambaram and one metre gauge line between Tambaram and Chengalpattu.

Construction of 12 ROBs/RUBs in lieu of the existing level crossings between Egmore and Tambaram and a car shed at Tambaram for maintenance of BG EMUs are also included in the project.

In the first phase, conversion of the metre gauge main line between Tambaram and Egmore is likely to be completed by the first week of March. The Commissioner of Railway Safety is expected to inspect the line on March 1 for mandatory clearance.

In the second phase, BG platforms will be constructed in stations where they do not exist at present ie. at Chetpet, Nungambakkam, Saidapet, Palavantangal, Trisulam, Meenambakkam, Chrompet, and Tambaram Sanatorium.

For this, the traffic on the existing BG line will be suspended and diverted to the newly converted line. The BG platform work is expected to complete by September this year.

After that two BG lines will be available with platform facilities in all suburban stations which will help introduce regular BG EMU services. In the last phase, two suburban MG lines between Tambaram and Beach and one MG line from Tambaram to Chengalpattu will be converted.

One of the main features of the project is provision of steel portals covering all the four lines supporting the Overhead Electric Equipment (OHE). Another feature is that the steel girder deck on the five existing subways on Nelson Manickam Road, Kannamapet and Palavantangal (Nanganallur) are being replaced with ballasted concrete decks.

Mr. R. Sundararajan, Chief Engineer, Construction, Southern Railway, said it was a very difficult and arduous task as the project had to be executed without causing much inconvenience to commuters.

Southern Railway hopes that the forthcoming railway budget would do justice to the project by allotting sufficient money to keep the project moving fast.

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