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Electrification of 228-km main line section picks up speed

Electrification of the 228-km long main line section from Villupuram to Thanjavur via Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Mayiladuthurai and Kumbakonam serving as an alternative route to Chennai from Tiruchi is apace with the project being executed in phases by the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).

In the first phase, overhead electrification from Villupuram to Cuddalore Port Junction covering a distance of about 50 route kilometres has been taken up with 75% of foundation works having been completed in this portion.

As part of the project, the RVNL has installed about 800 overhead electric masts along this stretch and around 700 more masts were expected to be erected in the coming months.

The RVNL has simultaneously applied to the State-owned TANGEDCO and paid money for supply of power to the electric sub-station to be constructed at Cuddalore as part of the project, a senior RVNL official told The Hindu over phone on Thursday. In addition to Cuddalore, traction power sub-stations are to come up at three more places: Kollidam, Mayiladuthurai and Kumbakonam.

Given the current pace of work, the RVNL has targeted to complete electrification in the portion from Villupuram to Cuddalore by March next year, the official said. Preliminary work under phase - II from Cuddalore to Mayiladuthurai covering a distance of about 70 route kilometre has already been set in motion, the official said adding that funds were not a constraint for the entire project.

The third phase would cover the remaining stretch from Mayiladuthurai to Thanjavur and a branch line from Mayiladuthurai to Tiruvarur.

The electrification project up to Thanjavur is expected to be over in 2019-20 at a total cost of around Rs. 320 crore.

The old main line section from Villpuram to Thanjavur covering important pilgrim centres such as Chidambaram, Mayiladuthurai Kumbakonam and Papanasam has 55 major bridges and around 500 minor bridges en-route. Maximum number of 33 major bridges falls in the portion from Villupuram to Mayiladuthurai, said the official.

The chord line section from Villupuram to Tiruchi via Vriddhachalam and Ariyalur and the main line stretch from Villupuram to Thanjavur are the two major routes falling under the vast limits of Tiruchi Railway Division.

The chord line section from Villupuram to Tiruchi via Vriddhachalam and Ariyalur has already been electrified. Electrification of the main line section would also pave way for operation of electric loco. Presently, all trains running in the main line section are being hauled by diesel locomotive.

The main line section has been serving as an alternative route for the Railways to operate south-bound trains from Chennai and those to Chennai from Tiruchi in case of major disruption of rail traffic anywhere in the chord line stretch. Some express trains to south and those to Chennai are being operated on the main line hauled by diesel locomotives.

Completion of overhead electrification which is currently on from Thanjavur to Tiruchi (nearly 50 km) would eventually pave way for operation of electric loco hauled passenger trains from Tiruchi to Chennai and back via main line section without any loco change over.

A thrust has been accorded to electrification projects which would be more environmental friendly and substantially cut down mounting fuel bills for the Railways in the longer run. Further electric loco has a better acceleration when compared to diesel locomotive, said the official.


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