Gauge converted Palakkad Pollachi Railway Track – Future possibilities – Part 1

FUTURE PROSPECTS UPON OPENING Broad Gauge CONVERTED PALAKKAD – POLLACHI RAILWAY SECTION ( Part- I)

Prospects for introduction of Chennai Egmore – Guruvayur and Palakkad overnight-trains; direct rail link between Central Tamil Nadu to West Coast cities – Goa, Mumbai etc via. Palakkad, Kozhikkode, Mangaloreand through Konkan Railway.

Happy to know that gauge conversion in the Palakkad – Kollengode – pollachi section is almost completed and waits for the formal inspection prior to the introduction of trains. This branch line is the part of the Palakkad – Dindigul BG Conversion project. It is to be noted that the Pollachi – Palani – Dindigul section is already opened for traffic and the Pollachi – Podanur section is under work in progress.

7 long years of wait

It took around seven long years to convert the MG line to BG! Cessation of MG trains for gauge conversion was on 10th December,2008. The 6th anniversary of the closure of PGT – Pollachi MG section was on 10th December, 2014 and the conversion project was very much behind the schedule. People of the region condemned the slow pace of project development and they had apprehensions on the commissioning of the rail section for resumption of train services (in the BG track) as promised by the Southern Railway. Southern Railway will find it feasible to operate express trains between Ernakulam, Guruvayur, Mangalore, Palakkad and Pondicherry, Karaikkal as well as temple towns like Palani, Madurai, Rameswaram, Thiruchchi (Trichy) , Nagore, and Velankkanni in Tamil Nadu. As per the scheduled programme, the gauge conversion work in Palani – Pollachi- Palakkad section had to be finished on or before 31st March, 2013! The project had very much overrun time and cost and of course patience of passengers!

The conversion work in the pending stretch of Pollachi Jn. – Kollengode – Palakkad Jn. is very significant since it is last phase of the Palakkad – Dindigul B.G conversion. Once the train services get resumed in the Palakkad – pollachi section, there will be some impediments to road users due to the closure of railway gates in Olavakkode, Robbinson road and Yakkara road as well as the gate at Oottara in the Kollengode – Chittur/Palakkad road) near the Kollengode railway station. Kerala government as well as Local bodies can take initiative to collaborate with Southern railway for the construction of over-bridges to overcome the adverse situation of traffic jams. .

Palakkad Town Parli Loop Line

Since the BG line from Pollachi reaches Palakkad junction through the western side, the engine has to be shunted to the rear side of the train for hauling towards Shournur/Thrissur . Thus it is desirable to have a loopline towards the Parali railway station from the ‘Kavilppadu’ area, after the level crossing between Palakkad Town and Palakkad Junction. To avoid the waste of time in changing the engine, trains can be made to run through the loop-line and can be brought backwards to the platform in the Palakkad Junction. Goods trains that need not come to Palakkad junction can be directed through the loop-line towards Shoranur/Thrissur. As the entire Dindigul – Palani – Udumalaipet – Polachi – Kollengode – Palakkad section is not electrified, change-over to electic engine can be done at Palakkad Town itself, especially for those Goods Trains which bypass Palakkad Junction.

Palakkad – Pollachi line that gets connected with trunk routes in Dindigul and Palakkad will add value in respect of traffic earnings to the Palakkad and Madurai divisions in the Southern Railway.

The Palakkad – Pollachi BG conversion’s track laying was in full swing during the past few months as Southern Railway envisaged to open the same for traffic at least by mid April, 2015. Of course the schedule could not be maintained. Once the inspection by Commissioner for Rail Safety is over, there is likelihood for introduction of trains without further delay. The significance of the Palakkad Jn – Palakkad Town – Pudunagaram- Kollengode – Pollachi – Udumalaipet- Palani – Dindigul BG line is enormous mainly due to the fact that it creates direct rail link between Central Tamil Nadu to West Coast cities – Goa, Mumbai etc via. Palakkad, Kozhikkode, Mangalore etc( through Konkan Railway from Mangalore).

Chennai Guruvayur Overnight Express

Once the Dindigul – Palakkad section becomes operational a new pair of trains offering overnight journey from Chennai to Guruvayur can be introduced. Of course currently passengers form Chennai prefer to travel directly to Guruvayur by overnight trains to Thrissur ( by Ernakulam, Alleppy, Thiruvananthapuram bound trains via. Erode -Palakkad and even get a connection train from Thrissur to Guruvayur for the just 22 km away).

Since availability of accommodation in trains up to Thrissur will be less, it is desirable to introduce a new train to Guruvayur via. Dindigul – Oddanchatram – Palani – Udumalaipet -Pollachi – Kollengode and Palakkad which will benefit passengers in this region as well. This pair of trains can have link trains between Madurai and Dindigul and thus passengers between Madurai and Guruvayur will get overnight journey.

The existing Chennai Guruvayur train ( Train No. 16127/28 and Tuticorin Link Express No.16129/30) can be split as two trains viz. Chennai – Nagarcoil /Tuticorin Expresses ( the same Train Nos. and the Tuticorin link train bifurcates at Vanchi maniyachi junction) and bogies of the Nagrcoil train can run as Nagarcoil – Guruvayur Express with a fresh Train Number. In the return direction, the Guruvayur – Nagarcoil Express can continue the journey under a different train number as Nagarcoil – Chennai Egmore Express (together with the Link Express bogies from Tuticorin upon amalgamation at the Vanchi maniyachi junction as usual). It is to be noted that passengers from Virudhanagar – Tirunelveli regions can travel to Guruvayur by the Nagarcoil train and continue their journey without changing the compartments while the composition of the Nagarcoil – Guruvayur train is to be with the same bogies. Reservations to/fro these stations are to be facilitated accordingly.

Chennai Egmore Palakkad Express

It is desirable to introduce a fresh pair of night trains between Chennai Egmore and Palakkad Junction via. Kollengode – Pollachi – Palani – Dindigul – Trichy – Vridhachalam – Villupuram – Chengelpet ( so called the Trichy – Chennai Egmore chord line) . The existing train fbetween Chennai Central and Palani is so round about through Salem – Namakkal – Karur- Dindigul. The said night trains were introduced through the newly laid Salem – Namakkal – Karur section to cater to the railway needs of passengers in this region. Passengers from Vadakkumcherry, Chittilamcherry, Ayalur, Adiperanda, Thiruvazhiyad, Nenmara, Elavancherry, Vattekkad, Payyallur, Pallassena, Alathur, Kunisseri, Koduvayur and , Pothundy Reservoir-Neliyampathy hill-station region will find a Chennai bound train more convenient from the nearby Kollengode railway station.

— Madan Menon Thottasseri

Gauge converted Palakkad Pollachi Railway Track – Future possibilities -Part 2 here

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