Back to Good Old days………………..
Will we have a revival of the then 'shortest train*' route to Trivandrum???
A train trip this week to Tenkasi brought one’s memories back to the good old days- the days of the first train in Tamil Nadu that ran from Madras (Egmore) through Tenkasi to Trivandrum.
One of the earliest trains that ran in Tamil Nadu was the Madras Trivandrum Express via Trichy, Madurai, Virudhanagar, the cracker town of Sivakasi, the temple town of Srivilliputhur, business center Rajapalyam, Tenkasi (which houses the famous Courtallam) and Quilon (now Kollam). Those were the days of meter gauge trains.
Those days a couple of coaches used to be attached in Virudhanagar for the benefit of passengers from Tirunelveli and down South.
Later on, Vanchi Maniyachi (the station is famous for the freedom struggle shoot out – Young Vanchinathan shooting British General ‘Ash Durai’ and then immediately killing himself with the bullet shot) became an important junction on the South Coast of Tamil Nadu with people from Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari boarding the Tuticorin-Chennai Muthu Nagar(Pearl City) Express- one of the other oldest trains in TN- at Vanchi. (Yes, there were no trains then to the Halwa Town or the Cape)
Tenkasi-Quilon loses shine
In the 1960s and 70s, with the introduction of sleeper class and several more trains including the Chennai- Coimbatore- Trivandrum route, this old famous route (Tenkasi-Quilon) became neglected. And the final nail on the coffin was hit with the (almost) full scale broad gauge conversion in Tamil Nadu. This saw the stalling of some of the famous old routes (some temporarily and some rather more long term). Those that failed to come under the spot light of ‘broad gauging’ went out of prominence-Virudhanagar-Quilon was one such.
Hope of 'Back to Old days'
The last couple of years, however, has given ‘train travellers’ some hope to old timers. The Virudanagar-Tenkasi route has been broad gauged, and with it has seen the revival of the Chennai-Tenkasi express – From twice a week, this has currently been increased to 6 days a week now. Shortly, into the future, this train will run up to Shengottai.
However the big question mark lingers – will the oldest express route in TN see its full revival… There is another 100 kms of broad gauging to be done- Shengottai – Quilon.
If that does happen, then hope can turn into reality – the re-introduction of the (then) shortest and oldest train route from Chennai to Trivandrum via the Western Ghats.
Till then, travelers can at least enjoy the direct ‘foot of the water falls’ train journey to Courtallam.
Chennai- Palghat- Quilon- Trivandrum - around 925 kms
Chennai-Virudhanagar-Tenkasi-Quilon-Trivandrum = 850kms
*Now Chennai-Nagercoil-Trivandrum is the shortest route(around 800kms)