Royapuram station to survive Railway’s bid to wipe it off from heritage list

The Southern Railways’ plan to tear down the more-than-a-century-old Royapuram railway station will not fructify, as the State Heritage Conservation Committee is set to turn down its request to de-list the structure from the list of heritage buildings.

Sources in Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority told Express a decision to this effect would be made later this month when the heritage panel will hold a meeting. “We don’t want to set a precedent,” confided a CMDA source.

Built in 1856 during the colonial era by then Madras Railway Company, Royapuram was the first station that initiated railway services in South India. The list prepared by CMDA has described it as a Grade-1 heritage structure.

Southern Railways had planned to raze the Royapuram station and build a passenger terminal, adding two rail lines to connect stations in south Tamil Nadu with the rest of the country.

CMDA sources said the heritage panel would also discuss the first draft list of 79 heritage sites. After going through omissions and corrections, the list is likely to be forwarded to the State government for notification.

The Heritage Conservation Committee has identified 500 sites and so far details have been collected on only about 79 sites.

The Royapuram station, noted for its architecture, was the second to be built in India and it remained the main railway terminus in Chennai until 1907. However, due to lack of maintenance, the station is in a dilapidated condition and if the government does not notify it soon, the building would be consigned to the pages of history books.

About 16 trains pass through Royapuram railway station but none of the express trains stop here. However, the station serves local commuters from Arakonam, Gummidipoondi and Ponneri with 42 up and down train halts a day.