Friday 16 August 2013

Falling prey to modernisation

In an earlier post, we had written about the Railway Press in the Divisional Railway Office in Mysore
which was closed down on March 1, 2013. The press printed Edmundson railway tickets in lakhs since its inception in 1908.The press was a heritage institution and it fell prey to the engine of modernisation. Another relic of the bygone era and one which had pleasant memories for all Mysoreaons was the last metre gauge service between Mysore and Chamarajamagar.
The metre gauge on the Mysore-Chamarajanagar section faded into history as the last train chugged out from the city railway station on January 17, 2007.
The Mysore-Chamarajanagar service was introduced more than a century ago when Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar was the King of Mysore. Incidentally, the last steam engine in Karnataka also ran on this section.
It was on December 1, 1891 that the Mysore-Nanjangud stretch was laid by the Railways. The cost of this 24-km line then was Rs. 6.2 lakh. Earthwork on the Nanjangud-Chamarajanagar section was taken up in 1921 but work was discontinued following financial problems. However, the work was once again taken up in 1923-24 and a loan of Rs. 8 lakh raised. The line to Chamarajanagar was completed and thrown open to railway traffic on August 27, 1926.
Since then, the train had been running continuously. This section has a length of 61 km. The longest railway bridge in the district, constructed across the Kapila between Tandavpura and Nanjangud railway stations, is on this section.
The Railways operated eight pairs of trains on the section which mainly catered to commuters and pilgrims visiting the temple town of Nanjangud and Chamarajanagar. About 8,500 passengers and 2,800 monthly season ticket-holders patronised the trains. The last train to Chamarajanagar pulled out of platform No. 5 at Mysore, bringing to an end one of the earliest rail services in Karnataka.
Today, the section is part of the broad gauge network and trains still continue to operate. The railway track was upgraded to broad gauge from in November 2008.
The project to construct a new railway line from Chamarajanagar to Satyamangalam, Gobichettypalayam and Erode is progressing slowly. It will reduce the distance between Bangalore and Chamarajanagar and other cities of Tamil Nadu.
The proposal to extend the railway line further to Mettupalayam in Tamil Nadu has not yet received environmental clearance. The line will cut through forests and slopes of Nilgiris, Kotagiri, Talamalai Hills and Mudiyanoor and it will entail construction of  277 bridges, 138 curves created and 61 tunnels.
Incidentally, Chamarajanagar is the last Railway station on the southern most point in Karnataka.

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