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Chennai-Kanyakumari section emerges most profitable for third year running

S. Vijay Kumar

The segment earned an all-time high of Rs. 173.6 crores in 2004-05


MADURAI: : The Chennai-Kanyakumari sector has emerged as the most profitable route in the `south broad gauge stream' for the third consecutive year.

A chunk of the passenger earnings has originated from the southern destinations, including Madurai, Tirunelveli and Nagercoil. According to the latest report on the commercial performance of Southern Railway, passenger earnings in the Chennai-Kanyakumari sector have grown significantly over the years because of gauge conversion, particularly between Madurai and Tirunelveli.

Though the Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore and Chennai-Coimbatore-Udhagamandalam sections were considered the two top profit-making routes until 2001-02, the Chennai-Kanyakumari section has surpassed revenue targets.

Despite a dozen express trains operating on this stretch, the demand for more trains persists, if the number of waitlisted passengers is an indication.

The Chennai-Kanyakumari segment earned Rs. 26.4 crores in 2000-01 and posted an all-time high of Rs. 173.6 crores during 2004-05. The number of passengers increased from 13.29 lakhs to 65.7 lakhs during the period.

Though Southern Railway operates hundreds of special trains during festival seasons, the demand during the off-peak season remains high.

"All south-bound trains, including the Madurai-Chennai Pandiyan and Chennai-Tirunelveli Nellai superfast Express trains, run full almost throughout the year. The patronage for the newly introduced Tenkasi-Chennai Podhigai Express is so good that we have increased its frequency. Some special trains can be regularised on the Kanyakumari-Chennai stretch, to begin with, during weekends," a senior official said.

Gauge conversion

After completion of the Manamadurai-Mandapam, Tiruchi-Manamadurai and Tenkasi-Punalur gauge conversion, the demand for more trains will pick up.

"Besides expediting the Madurai-Dindigul broad gauge double line project, conversion of the Dindigul-Palghat/Coimbatore and Madurai-Kottayam (via Bodi) sections should also be taken up. A Rs. 2,000-crore proposal to lay an electrified double line between Chennai and Kanyakumari mooted by former Minister of State for Railways A.K. Moorthy is pending," the official said.

With the Sethusamudram project, Nanguneri industrial park and Koodankulam nuclear power project coming up in the southern districts, the need to strengthen the railway network and infrastructure has become imperative.

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