Palaruvi Express, the last train to cross twin tunnels near Kottayam railway station

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Palaruvi Express was the last train to go through Kottayam's railway twin tunnels. Photo: Rijo Joseph

Kottayam: A ‘dark’ chapter in Kerala’s railway history has come to an end with the last train passing through the twin tunnels near Kottayam railway station. The train was the Palaruvi Express from Tirunelveli to Palakkad (No: 16791) and the time was 7.29 am on Thursday.

With the commissioning of the new Chingavanam – Kottayam – Ettumanoor double track, trains will no longer run through the twin tunnels, which were built 65 years ago. This is because during the doubling work, two new tracks were laid bypassing the tunnels, while an additional track was constructed parallel to the existing track in other areas. Incidentally, the new tracks were built without causing damage to the tunnels or the old railway lines under them.

Railway officials said that they had no plan to shut the tunnels. “The tracks passing through the tunnels will be utilized for shunting,” they said.

After the Palaruvi Express crossed the tunnels, work on connecting the new tracks was taken up.

The twin tunnels were built in 1957 and among those involved in the work was E Sreedharan, an assistant engineer with the Railways who later became the ‘Metro Man’ of India. Over the years, the tunnels had acquired ominous shades in many works of fiction. 

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