Villupuram-Trichinopoly Railway

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The Villupuram to Trichinopoly Traffic Investigation was undertaken in 1922 to determine the best alignment of a railway connecting Villupuram and Trichinopoly [1].

Several alternative routes were examined and the final alighnment between Villupuram and Trichinopoly, 100½ miles(178km), opened in 1929 as a metre gauge(MG) chord line of the South Indian Railway(SIR). See Final Route below for details

Villupuram to Trichinopoly -alternative routes surveyed

Place Names

Note that spelling of place names varies
FIBIS has adopted the place name spellings as given in ‘The Imperial Gazetteer of India”, 1908 [2].
Alternative and later spellings are given here italics


In December 1898 Francis J. E. Spring, Consulting Engineer for Railways to the Government of Madras, suggested a chord line from Trichinopoly to Tirukkoyilur in the district of Villupuram to serve all famine purposes and of commercial gain in the following summary from his note published In Government of Madras G. O. No. 85 Railway, dated 18 Jan 1899: -

”During famine time much anxiety is always felt about a certain tract in the Madras Presidency, which is roughly 100 miles long and the same broad, comprising parts of the districts of Trichinopoly, South Arcot and Salem. This tract is bounded on all sides by railways but the physical conditions are such that great parts of it are very little assisted by these railways, especially in famine years when draught cattle die off in large numbers. The shape is an irregular quadrilateral maybe roughly described as having at its corners the stations of Morappur, Cuddalore, Tanjore and Karur. The ‘Jarapeti-Erode Section’ of the Madras Railway ( broad gauge) runs to the west; part of its northern side is bounded by the ‘Cuddalore-Tirukkoilur Section’ of the South Indian Railway ( metre gauge); the same railway and gauge provide the ‘Tanjore-Trichinopoly-Karur Section’ to the south, and the’ Cuddalore-Tanjore Section’ on the east”

The suggestion was generally supported by all interested in the development of that tract of country and a traffic survey of the proposed chord line was undertaken, followed by a reconnaissance survey which commenced in 1900.

Survey and Proposals

In 1907 the Railway Board approved a detailed survey of the proposed chord line and called for an estimate of its cost which in due course was submitted and sanctioned in regard to the question of alignment, however, the Agent of the South Indian Railway wrote to the Consulting Engineer for Railways pointing out that the proposed line passed through scantily populated tracts without serving the most densely populated portions and suggesting the following four alternative routes with the recommendation that the route via Vriddacheilam (No.4) was preferable: -

  • (1) via Tirukoilur - 96¾ miles to be constructed, giving distance between Trichinopoly and Villupuram 148½ miles
  • (2) direct to Villupram - 96¾ miles to be constructed, giving distance between Trichinopoly and Villupuram 97¼ miles
  • (3) via Adiyur and Panruti - 94¾ miles to be constructed, giving distance between Trichinopoly and Villupuram 108¼ miles
  • (4) via Vriddachellam and Panruti - 90.00 miles to be constructed, giving distance between Trichinopoly and Villupuram 103¼ miles

The Consulting Engineer however, after communicating with the Railway Board, recommended route No (3) and that the general direction of the chord line should be northwards from Trichinopoly via Sirirangam, Tirupattur, Perambalur, Volcondah, Pariorz, Adaiyur and Panruti to Villupuram. A detailed estimate was sent to the Railway Board accordingly and after much correspondence as to the standard (i.e Gauge) to which this line had to be constructed, the Secretary of State, in his letter NO. P. W. 1578 of 14 Jul 1914, advised that, subject to certain limitations, the Government of India were willing to meet the views of the South Indian Railway as to the standard of construction. Unfortunately owing to the abnormal conditions caused by the war, funds for the proposed line could not be found by the Government and it was held in abeyance.

The question was revived In November 1919, and the Railway Board asked for the detailed estimate to be revised to accord with the current market rates for materials etc. The Railway Board responded vide their Secretary letter No. 995 P., dated the 15th August 1922, to the Agent, South Indian Railway

"I am directed to say that the Railway Board are not satisfied that the surveyed alignment of the Panruti-Trichinopoly chord railway.Is it the best from a traffic point of view? Engineering factors appear to the Railway Board to be of comparatively minor importance in fixing the alignment and the Board understand that a line considerably more to the east than that surveyed is likely to prove much more suitable from the point view of the Traffic requirements of the area. The Board have therefore decided that a Traffic investigation of the whole area bounded on the west by the surveyed alignment and on the south, east and north by the Coloroon river and the South Indian Railway Metre Gauge main line should be undertaken at once with a view to ascertain the best alignment for a line connecting Villupuram and Trichinopoly."

Traffic Investigation

The investigation, in compliance with the Railway Board's wishes, was undertaken commenced 7 Nov 1922. The following is a summary taken from this Report[1]

Alternative Routes

The only places in the districts which the proposed Railway would traverse and which are important both from a civil and commercial point of view and which are at present not served by a railway even within a reasonable distance are Perambalur, Ariyalur, Udaiyarpalayam and Jayankondasholapuram in the Trichinopoly District; Vriddachellam, Ulundurpet, Tiagadurgam and Kallakuruchi in the South Arcot District. Any railway proposed would, in these circumstances, be expected to serve either all of them or as many of them as possible. Serving all the places is impracticable for obvious reasons, the only alternative left then being to serve as many of them as possible. On a careful and close scrutiny of the population map of the districts concerned having this fact and the boundaries laid down by the Railway Board especially in view and judging from the Branch lines which the Presidents of the Trichinopoly, South Arcot and Salem District Boards have proposed from time to time in their respective districts, and the several populous places and trading centres in the territory, the following possible alignments between Trichinopoly and Villupuram suggest themselves for consideration, besides the one already surveyed and reported upon

  • (A) via Lalgudi, Pullambadi, Ariyalur, Vriddachellam and Ulundurpet to Villupuram (Distance 100.58 miles/161.8km),
  • (B) via Lalgudi, Pullambadi, Udaiyarpalayam, Srimushnam, Mangalam and Tiruvamut to Villupuram (Distance 103.6 miles/166.7km)
  • (C) via Lalgudi, Pullambadi, Jayankondasholapuram, Parvathipuram and Oriyur to Villupuram (Distance 108.45 miles/174.5km).

These routes formed the subject of discussion with the following persons interested in the development of transport facilities with a view to ascertain which of them would serve the requirements best :- (a) The Collector, Trichinopoly District, (b) The President, District Board, Trichinopoly, (c) The President, District Board, South Arcot, and (d) The President, The Southern India Chamber of Commerce, Madras.


The weight of opinion of both the trading and travelling public favoured the alignment (A), viz. , the one passing through Lalgudi, Pullambadi, Ariyalur, Vriddachellam, and Ulundurpet, and in view of the fact that it presents no engineering difficulties, this alignment should, without hesitation, be decided upon as the best suited for the needs of the districts concerned.

Final Route

The route finally selected was alighnment (A) and named the ‘Villupuram-Trichinoloply Chord Line’. Sanction was given in Dec 1924 and work commenced in Jan 1925. The track was constructed as a metre gauge(MG) line, however the bridges were to broad gauge(BG) specification [3]
Sections of the line were as follows:-

  • Golden Rock to Srirangam, 5.5 miles(8.8km), opened Aug 1927, this section crosses the Kaveri River
  • Srirangam to Bikshandarkovil, 2.7 miles(4.3km), opened Dec 1927, this section crosses the Coleroon River (Kollidam River)
  • Bikshandarkovil to Lalgudi, 6.6 miles(10.6km), opened Mar 1928
  • Lalgudi to Vriddhachalam, 59.3 miles(95.4km), being the final section to open in Feb 1929
  • Vriddhachalam to Villupuram, 59.3 miles(95.4km), opened Apr 1928

Villupuram-Trichinopoly Railway Construction Personnel

The following personnel are listed in June 1926 as working on this construction for the South Indian Railway(SIR) [4]:-

  • Billington P Executive Engineer, No I Division, Vriddachalam
  • Reilly S G Executive Engineer, No II Division, Ariyalur
  • Desai A C Assistant Engineer, No II Division, Senduria
  • Bedington H F F Executive Engineer, No II Division, Trichinopoly
  • Ried A F Assistant Engineer, No I Division, Villupuram
  • Ramiah V Assistant Engineer, No I Division, Ulundurpet
  • Dutt J N Assistant Engineer, No I Division, Pennadam
  • Reed C J Assistant Engineer, No II Division, Pullambadi


  1. 1.0 1.1 IOR/V/27/722/28 “Report showing result of Traffic Investigation in regard of the best alignment of a railway connecting Villupuram and Trichinopoly” by Rao Sahib S. Krishnamachari (Acting District Traffic Superintendent, South Indian Railway, Trichinopoly) on purpose to ascertain the best alignment of a line connecting Villupuram and Trichinopoly (vide Railway Board's letter No. 995 P, dated the 15th August 1922)
  2. “The Imperial Gazetteer of India”, 1908 ; Retrieved 27 Mar 2019
  3. ’Marvels of the South Indian Railways 1859-1951’ by South Indian Railway Heritage Centre, 2010, page 136
  4. “Classified List of Gazetted Establishment of Indian Railways” by the Indian Railway Board, Jun 1926, pages 272-274 ; Retrieved 27 Mar 2019