Madras- Chidambaram-Seerkazhi Main Line rail route remains suspended
Will the train travellers get to travel on the Madras-Chidambaram-Seerkazhi route in the near future?
It has been a few years since the old and the ever popular Madras-Trichy main line rail route was suspended. This section saw popular trains such as Chozhan and Kamban Express running through the green fields and near the temple towers(Rock Fort Express also used to run on this line before being shifted to the Chord Line).
The reason for this suspension of services was the broad gauging of the main line between Villupuram and Mayiladuthurai / Kumbakonam. It seemed a very noble cause then. What however has become a nightmare of passengers has been the unreasonable delay in conversion of this less than 150km stretch between Villupuram and Mayiladuthurai.
Given the importance of the towns on this route – the sea port of Cuddalore, the education hub and temple town of Chidambaram, the temple and agricultural towns of Seerkazhi and Mayiladuthurai, one would have hoped for a fast conversion of the meter gauge line to broad gauge to facilitate passenger traffic between Madras and Mayiladuthurai and going up to Tiruchirapalli. The extension of this line beyond Mayiladuthurai takes one to religious/ port towns of Nagore- Nagapattinam (Velankanni) and Tiruvarur.
While one would have expected the railways to have commenced conversion of Villupuram-Cuddalore-Chidambaram route, interestingly, we saw a very fast conversion of Trichy-Thanjavur-Kumbakonam stretch of 90kms, ahead of the Maha Magam ( a few years ago) which has now been extended by another 35kms to Mayiladuthurai.
Years have passed. Several deadlines seem to have slipped by. And the broad gauge conversion of the Main Line still remains a mystery. A weak Coloroon bridge is the unending reasoning of the railway authorities. In this age of technological advancement, it seems a rather poor excuse not to find a solution for a weak bridge.
Buses on this route, including the private operators, are making hay while the Coloroon Bridge continues to remain weak. Bus services on this stretch have expanded dramatically. One visit to the Chidambaram and Cuddalore bus stands late in the night or early in the morning(4am) would confirm the happy state of affairs for the bus operators on this route.
In the last fortnight, authorities have run test services on the 20km route between Mayiladuthurai and Seerkazhi but the important Madras-Mayavaram section remains disconnected.
Will 2009 see the resumption of services of this once famous Madras-Chidambaram-Kumbakonam-Trichy Main Line Rail Route? One will have to wait and watch. Till then, it will continue to be a happy journey for the bus operators!!!