The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) has accorded approval for increasing the speed limit of the trains from 100 to 110 kmph on Chennai – Madurai section. This will reduce the travel time between the two cities 25 minutes. The CRS Node has come after two years of completing doubling cum electrification on the section.
The entire 495 km chord line stretch between Chennai Egmore and Madurai via Chengalpattu, Villupuram, Ariyalur, Tiruchy and Dindigul has been cleared for operating trains at 110 kmph.
However, the approval from K A Manoharan, CRS, Southern Circle comes with the rider that Southern Railway has to take safety precautions before increasing the speed limit.
The CRS which functions under the Ministry of Civil Aviation in a recent official note has directed the railways to intimate the date of increasing the speed of trains after complying with its directions.
Currently, the Chennai – Madurai Tejas Express is the fastest train operated in the section covering 495 km stretch in 6 hours 30 minutes with stoppages at Tiruchy and Kodai Road stations.
The flagship trains such as Pandiyan, Nellai and Pearl City Express take 7 hours 50 minutes to 8 hours 20 minutes to cover the distance.
“Upon completion of the recommendations of CRS, the speed will be increased to 110 kmph and thereby the travel time will be reduced by 25 minutes. As of now, there is no deadline for increasing the speed. Since CRS granted approval, the train speed will be increased at the earliest on resumption of services after the lockdown,” said a senior railway official.
After prolonged delay, the doubling work between Chennai and Madurai was completed in February 2018. The 25 km track of Thamaraipadi – Kalpathi Chathiram between Tiruchy and Dindigual was the last leg to be doubled in the section.
About 14 daily Express, 17 weekly and passenger trains run between Tiruchy and Madurai and railways have carried out track strengthening works in the last two years to increase the sectional speed.
The track upgradation work involves machine packing of tracks and removing the dust and soil in the tracks by screening the ballasts, besides tightening weak joints on the tracks. In addition, packing of loose soil is also done at several places.
However, railway officials clarified that the move has nothing to do with the proposed operation of private trains.
“The railways had plans to increase the train speeds upto 130 kmph in highly demanded routes. The track enhancement work was completed as part of the railways plans,” added the railway official.