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Move to terminate MG trains at Podanur draws flak

Staff Reporter

TPDK says it will cause a lot of hardship to commuters

Coimbatore: The decision of Southern Railway to terminate metre gauge (MG) train services at Podanur Junction instead of Coimbatore has drawn flak.

During a recent visit to Coimbatore, the General Manager of Southern Railway, Thomas Varghese, had told reporters that in a bid to develop Coimbatore Junction into a hub for operation of more broad gauge train services, MG services would be terminated at Podanur with effect from February. Southern Railway had plans to develop Podanur Junction as a satellite terminal for MG services so that the last platform at Coimbatore Junction could be developed into another BG line for accommodating more trains.

The surge in traffic and lack of space made the railway authorities moot such a proposal. The Southern Railway also had a tie-up with State Transport Corporation authorities for operating special bus services from Coimbatore Junction to Podanur and connecting trains for the benefit of passengers leaving and arriving by MG trains.

The Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK), however, has opposed the decision.

Termination of MG services at Podanur would cause a lot of hardship to commuters, especially regular commuters travelling by season ticket, K. Ramakrishnan, general secretary of TPDK, has said.

Season ticket holders travelling from Pollachi to Coimbatore and back spend only Rs. 6 per day. If the services were terminated at Podanur, they would be forced to spend another Rs. 10 for reaching Coimbatore city by bus.

"As such, Podanur is not served by adequate bus service and the move would only increase pressure on the existing mode of public transport system." Termination of MG services at Podanur would even lead to decline in patronage for MG services, which the Southern Railway would even cite as a reason for withdrawing the service, he said. MG services should continue from Coimbatore Junction until the Coimbatore - Pollachi - Udumalpet - Palani - Dindigul - Madurai section was taken up for gauge conversion, he said.

Mixed gauge track

To tide over this, TPDK suggested the concept of having a mixed gauge railway line concept.

All that the railways would have to do is lay another single rail along the MG track for four km from Coimabtore to Podanur. Such a mixed gauge track can accommodate both MG and BG trains depending on the need. When there were no MG services, the track could be used as a BG line, he added.

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