Connection to Chennai-Bangalore rail will streamline freight movement

If everything goes by plan, trains would run right in the middle of Chennai’s Outer Ring Road (ORR), with vehicular movement on either side of the track in a couple of years. This railway line will connect Ennore port with Nemilicheri, and eventually connect the Chennai-Bangalore rail.

The 62-km ORR from Vandalur to Minjur is 125 m in width. A provision of 25 m had been made in the middle of the road for a possible railway link. The Ennore Port Ltd has proposed to the Tamil Nadu Government to use this stretch of land to construct a rail link to connect the port with the Bangalore rail link.

“We seized the opportunity to put up the rail link,” Senthil Kumar, General Manager, EPL.

“Since EPL is going to be the major beneficiary, we are ready to invest nearly Rs 750 crore in the project, which will connect the port and the Bangalore railway line.

“We will utilise a portion the Rs 1,000-crore Bond Issue and also seek financial assistance from banks,” he told Business Line.

On Tuesday, top EPL officials met senior bureaucrats of the Tamil Nadu Government on the project. “They have evinced interest in the project, and were surprised that nobody came up with such a proposal so far,” he earlier told at a trade meet organised by the port in association with the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

EPL plans to tie up with the State Government to launch it as a joint venture; the Government will assess the project soon, he said.

The Rs 1,000-crore phase II project of ORR starts at Nemilicheri and crosses the Chennai-Bangalore railway line and Chennai Tiruvallur High Road. It passes through Mittanamallee, Morai, Attanthangal, Padiyanallur and Kandigai villages to end at Minjur, which is contiguous with the Ennore port.

A 17-km road from Vandalur to Nemilicheri, part of the first phase, is ready for use.

The ORR will connect Vandalur on NH 45 in the south with Minjur on Tiruvottiyur Ponneri Panchetti Road, north of Chennai. The alignment crosses existing railway lines at Vandalur and Nemilichery and major rivers of Adyar Cooum and Kosathalayar.

Kumar said that the utilisation of the Chennai-Bangalore railway line is 148 per cent. Due to this congestion, goods train are often sidelined to make way for passenger trains. This causes delay in freight movement. Currently, cargo from the port goes via Athipattu on the Chennai-Kolkata line to the Bangalore railway line.

The EPL in its proposal said it will bypass Chennai and use the ORR to connect to west of Avadi and proceed to the Bangalore rail line.

Land acquisition will not be a problem as 89 per cent of the land for the second phase of ORR has been acquired.

Kumar said that the Government of India has recently permitted non-government entities such ports, mining and steel companies to lay railway lines. The rail operations will, however, rest with the Railways. “This directive is very timely for us,” he said.

By the end of the 12th Plan, the port’s annual capacity could more than double to 66 million tonnes of cargo a year.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 15, 2013)
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