Southern Railway is one of the oldest of the 16 railway zones in India.It was created in 1951 by merging the three then existing railways namely Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway, the South Indian Railway, and the Mysore State Railway. Southern Railway has its headquarters in Chennai and it has 6 divisions under it control.
Division under Southern Railway:
· 1. Chennai
· 2. Tiruchirapalli
· 3. Madurai
· 4. Palghat
· 5. Trivandrum
· 6. Salem
Salem division was recently carved out in 2005 to improve the railway infrastructure and to offer better services to people in this area. Coimbatore and Trippur have been included in this division.
The network extends over most of the southern peninsula comprising the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and minor parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and the union territory of Pondicherry. The network boundaries are Renigunta in the north west, Gudur in North east, Mangalore in the western coast,andKanniyakumari, the southern most tip of the Indian Railway.
Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore are the major stations in the Souther Railway Headquarters – Chennai.From here, train routes branch out to North South and Western India. Most of the lines in this Railway were in metre guage. Thanks to the uniguage policy of Indian Railways, almost 90% of the lines have been converted to broadguage, except for some minor areas. This has helped improve the efficiency of Southern Railways.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway:
It is one of the oldest mountain railway system existing in India. It was built by the British and still is powered by a steam engine. It connects the hill station Ooty with Mettypalayam at the foothills of the Nilgris. It is one of the picturesque mountain railway systems in India. No wonder that United Nations has recoginsed it as a world hertiage site.
The Pamban bridge connecting the island of Rameshwaram with the Indian Peninsula is an engineering marvel. Constructed by the British,it has a unique bascule bridge section, which can be raised to allow the ships and other vessels to pass under the bridge. It was a metre guage section until recently. now it has been converted to broad guage by Southern Railway. Thousands of hindu pilgrims visit Rameshwaram every year and this unique railway line over the sea caters to their needs.
MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System):
MRTS is a suburban train service (Electric Multiple Unit) in Chennai, run mostly on an elevated structure. It covers a distance of 27 kms from Chennai Beach to Velacherry and the travel time is almost 40 minutes. It is a boon to the Chennai commuters, as people alonside this route, has an alternative to travelling by road, which takes more than twice the time taken by MRTS, due to traffic snarls during peak hours.
Another rapid transit rail system is the Chennai Metro which is under construction. It will be fully operational in 20014-15. It will have two corridors one from Tiruvottriyur to CHennai airport and the other will be from Chennai Central to St.THomas Mount. Almost half the routes will be underground and the rest will be elevated. Chennai Metro will bring the state of art technology in rapid transit rail system to Chennai.
Places of Tourist Interest, connected by Southern Railway:
|No||Station||Important Places of Tourist Interest|
|1||Tenkasi||Coutrallam Water falls|
|2||Salem||Yercaud hill station|
|3||Kanniyakumari||Kumari Amman Temple, Vivekananda Rock, Tiruvalluvar statue in the sea|
|4||Kodai Road||Kodaikannal Hill station|
|5||Madurai||Meenakshi Amman temple, Tirumalainayakar palace|
|6||Nagore||Nagore Dargah, Velakkanni Church|
|7||Ooty||Ooty, Coonoor hill stations|
|11||Jolarpettai||Yelagiri hill station|
|12||Tiruchendur||Murugan temple along seashore|
|15||Pondicherry||Aurobindo ashram, Auroville|
|16||Kumbakonam||Upilli appan temple Navagrahah temples|
|18||Chidambaram||Siva temple Pichavaram mangroove forests|
|20||Kaladi||Birthplace of Adhisankarar|
|21||Ernakulam||Backwaters Cochin shipyard Chottanikara Bhagavathy temple|
|22||Chengannur||sabrimala Ayappan temple|
|24||Chalakudi||Athirampalli water falls|
|25||Kottayam||Thekkaday hill station Kumarakom backwaters|
|26||Trivandrum||Padmanabaswamy temple Kovalam beach Veli lagoon|
|27||Calicut||Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary|
|28||Allepey||Backwaters canals lagoons|