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Coimbatore Suburban Railway and Mammalapuram Tram

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Introduction

Coimbatore Suburban Railway Cum Coimbatore Broad Gauge Metro Railway or Kovai Metro Cum Suburban Railway is a Broad Gauge Metro and a Suburban railway planned for the city of Coimbatore. The circular railway route would serve Coimbatore Junction, Podanur, Vellalore, Irugur, Singanallur, Pilamedu, and Coimbatore North. Since this circular line runs through the critical portions of Coimbatore city and ends within the city limits, it shall undoubtedly help to relieve congestion on city roadways. The restoration of the former Main Line (Broad Gauge Vellore Station) Nanjundapuram Railway connection line, which is 1 km long, will help and assist in planning a circular urban electric train track. However, due to the proposed Coimbatore Metro, the project’s implementation is postponed.

Routes & Stations

These are the five routes.

  • Coimbatore Jn – Mettupalayam
  • Coimbatore Jn. – Pollachi Jn.
  • Coimbatore Jn – Tiruppur
  • Coimbatore Jn – Palakkad Jn
  • Coimbatore Jn – Irugur Jn – Podanur In – Coimbatore Jn (Proposed for Both Metro and Mainline Routes)(circular line as well as urban line).

As stated above, local passenger trains from Coimbatore Junction operate on all of the suburban routes except for the Coimbatore Jn – Irugur Jn – Coimbatore Jn (circular and urban line). Coimbatore North Junction (CBF), Podanur Junction (PTJ), Irugur Junction (IGU), Madukkarai (MDKI), Pilamedu (PLMD), Singanallur (SHI), Sulur Road (SUU), Periyanaickenpalayam railway station (PKU), and Somanur (SNO) are the other stations that serve the city. Other stations, such as Chettipalayam, Urumandampalayam, Veerapandi, and Pudupalayam, are no longer operating. However, the people have demanded the stations be reopened. The single-kilometre-long Nanjundapuram Railway connecting line was decommissioned soon after the Coimbatore North – Irugur section was completed.

The restoration of this Nanjundapuram Railway link line might help in the planning of a circular suburban electric train track connecting key train stations on Coimbatore’s outskirts, such as Mettupalayam, Irugur, Podanur, Pollachi, and others, to alleviate high and rising peripheral traffic. Residents of Nanjundapuram, Ramanathapuram, Redfields, Puliakulam, Sowripalayam, Udayampalayam, Singanallur, Varadarajapuram, Uppilipalayam, and Ondipudur in Coimbatore are expected to be benefitted from the reopening of the defunct Nanjundapuram Railway line and Station. Irugur by way of Nanjundapuram: This bypass route from Irugur to Podanur to Coimbatore was built many years ago when Coimbatore was only connected from Podanur as a branch from the Irugur-Podanur-Shoranur line.

It was done to allow trains from Erode to travel directly to Coimbatore. However, when Coimbatore was directly connected from the Irugur side through Pilamedu and Coimbatore North in 1953, this connecting line became obsolete and had been demolished. As the doubling work between Irugur and Coimbatore is underway, these double lines are expected to be used for suburban traffic if required and felt necessary. This can be said to be a sorrowful and despairing backdrop of the now-defunct Nanjundapuram Railway Station.

Mammalapuram

Mahabalipuram, also known as Mammalapuram, is a town in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district. It has a recognised seaport that dates back to the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava Dynasty, located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. The best time of the year to see this well-known landmark of significant architectural and sculptural achievements is from November to February. It is stated that the demon king Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu, who gave the city the name Mamallapuram, which was later changed by King Pallava Narshima Varman, who was given the title Mamalla- also known as the great wrestler. The Pallavas built and constructed a coastal temple to honour Lord Shiva in the seventh century, and during their reigns, they sculpted magnificent and spectacular structures, architecture and establishments with an active seaport for decades; this area is now included in the World Heritage-listed temples and sculptures.

Picture1

Mahabalipuram is well connected to the country’s major cities, including Chennai and Tamil Nadu. Various state and local tourist buses will take visitors to the historic city. Major routes connect Chennai to Mahabalipuram (54 km) and Bangalore (346 km). The nearest railway station is Mahabalipuram to Chengalpattu Junction (CGL) in Kancheepuram, 24 kilometres from the city. Taxis and cabs can be boarded from there to reach the magnificent city. Chennai International Airport is the closest airport to the city and connects all major cities in India and worldwide. From there, one may easily reach the beautiful city of Mahabalipuram. There are five Rathas, a shore temple, a Trimurthi cave, an Adivarah temple, a replica of Arjuna’s penance, and many other stunning sites that awaken tourists and guests.

Tram Services

To improve services and attract more tourists to Mammalapuram, the state government has planned to develop and establish an extensive parking area and a tram service within the tourist town. The government has proposed an idea and initiative to emulate tramways in Bordeaux, France, and Basel, Switzerland, which enable tourists to acquire a sense of the location on the streets of the towns and tourist locations. It has been proposed to provide a centralised parking area for all tourist vehicles. The revenue department has also identified a location near the Karu Kathamman temple in the beach-front town and has submitted a proposal to the concerned department.

Picture2

According to revenue department authorities, tram services have been planned to be established near the parking area. The projected tram service is scheduled and expected to go through town streets and narrow lanes, revealing the intricate and exquisite craftsmanship of the Pallava Kings and antiquities and artefacts around the town. Tourists can see the whole city and everything the town offers without walking and travelling for hours. Tourists must purchase a tram pass to enjoy the tram services, and they can hop on and off the tram at their leisure. The tram has been planned to pass through  UNESCO-listed sites, including the beach temple, the ‘Five Rathas,’ Arjuna’s Penance, and Krishna’s Butterball, among others. 

On the other hand, historians are sceptical of the idea, fearing that it may endanger heritage monuments. The historians, archaeologists and epigraphists, therefore, demand that the state government first form a committee comprising officials from the concerned departments and activists showing the route in which the tram will pass through the town. The popular tourist destination has been witnessing an upsurge in visitors since it was renovated and rebuilt for the second informal meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which took place on October 11 and 12, 2019.

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