Transport in Tamil Nadu

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Map indicating Highways network of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu, a state in South India has a highly developed, dense and modern transportation infrastructure, encompassing both public and private transport. Its capital city, Chennai is well-connected by air to domestic and international destinations and the Chennai International Airport in the city is one of the busiest airports in India.


Roads in Tamil Nadu[edit]

NH 67 in Thanjavur

Tamil Nadu has an extensive road network. State road network covers about 153 km per 100 km2 area, which is higher than the country's average road network coverage of 103 km per 100 km2 area. A separate Highways Department (HD) was established in April 1946 and the same has been renamed as Highways & Minor Ports Department (HMPD) on 30 October 2008.[1] HMPD of Tamil Nadu is primarily responsible for construction and maintenance of roads including national highways, state highways and major district roads in Tamil Nadu. It operates through 7 wings namely National Highways Wing, Construction & Maintenance Wing, NABARD and Rural Roads Wing, Projects Wing, Metro Wing, Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project Wing, Investigation and Designs Wing geographically spread across the state in 31 districts with about 120 divisions and 450 subdivisions.[2]

National Highways[edit]

In Tamil Nadu, ‘’National Highways Wing’’ of Highways & Minor Ports Department was established in the year 1971 to look after the works of improving, maintaining and renewing of National Highways laid down by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).[3] Out of 25 National Highways in Tamil Nadu, 12 NH's runs inside the Tamil Nadu. NH 47, NH 49, NH 208, NH 220 connects Tamil Nadu with Kerala. NH 67, NH 207, NH 209 connects Tamil Nadu with Karnataka. NH 205, NH 219 and NH 234 connects Tamil Nadu with Andhra Pradesh. NH 4 connects Tamil Nadu with Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. NH 5 connects Tamil Nadu with Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. NH 7 connects Tamil Nadu with Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. NH 66 connects Tamil Nadu with Karnataka and Puducherry.[4]

State Highways[edit]

See also: State Highways
Pamban road (left) and rail (right) bridges, connecting the Indian mainland with the Pamban Island. The rail bridge was opened to traffic in 1914, and was considered an engineering marvel in its time

Roads which connects district headquarters, important towns and the National Highways in the State and neighboring States are declared as State Highways. Construction & Maintenance wing of Highways Department looks after Construction, Maintenance of all the State Highways (SH), Major District Roads (MDR), Other District Roads (ODR). Tamil Nadu State Highways Network has 7 circles namely Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem, Trichy, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.[5]

Other Roads[edit]

This category includes Major District Roads, Other District Roads (ODR), Rural & Sugarcane Roads and Special Roads such as East Coast Road, Rajiv Gandhi Salai / IT Expressway, Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP), Chennai Port – Maduravoyal Expressway and Outer Ring Road Project. This Roads provides linkage between production and marketing centres within a district. It also provides connectivity for District & Taluk headquarters. The East Coast Road was the first project implemented by Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC) in the year 2002. ECR Road runs from Kudumiyandithoppu till outskirts of Pondicherry for a total length of 113.2 kilometres (70.3 mi). The 19 kilometres (12 mi) long Chennai Port – Maduravoyal Expressway is being developed Chennai Port Trust and Government of Tamil Nadu on 50:50 cost sharing basis at cost of INR1655 crore (US$270 million). The 62 kilometres (39 mi) long Outer Ring Road with six lanes from Vandalur to Minjur via Nemellichery is the project on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis at a cost of INR1000 crore (US$170 million) in two phases.

Tamil Nadu Road Network
Class Length (km)
National highways/expressways 4,873
State highways 9,384
Major district roads 11,288
Other district roads & sugarcane roads 36,096
Panchayat roads and other departments roads 1,37,399
Total (approx) 1,99,040

Road Transport in Tamil Nadu[edit]

Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation[edit]

TNSTC Low floor bus from JNNURM for Coimbatore city

The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) is the public transport bus operator of Tamil Nadu, India.[6] It operates buses along intra and inter state bus routes, as well as city routes. TNSTC is the second largest government bus transport corporation in India and is well known for its route coverage almost to every remote area within Tamil Nadu.

There are currently 9 divisions in TNSTC:

TNSTC operates buses of various classes as

  • General buses
  • Video coaches/Super deluxe buses
  • Ultra Deluxe coaches
  • AC Video Coaches and
  • AC VOLVO buses.
  • Classic buses.

State Express Transport Corporation[edit]

State Express Transport Corporation Limited (SETC) formerly known as Thiruvalluvar Transport Corporation runs long distance express services exceeding 250 km and above throughout the state of Tamil Nadu linking all important capital cities, historical places, religious places and commercial places etc., and adjoining states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry. SETC provides advance booking and reservation on all of its routes. Tickets can also be booked online at

SETC operates buses of various classes as

  • Semi-Deluxe
  • Super-Deluxe
  • Video coach and
  • ultra deluxe buses
  • AC Buses.


Headquarters of SR
Main article: Southern Railway zone

Tamil Nadu has a good rail network as part of Southern Railway. Headquartered at Chennai, the Southern Railway network extends over a large area of India's Southern Peninsula, covering the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, a small portions of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu has a total railway track length of 5,952 km (3,698 mi) and there are 532 railway stations in the state.[7] The system connects it with most major cities in India. Main rail junctions in the state include Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) and Salem.

Mass Rapid Transit System[edit]

Chennai, India's fourth-largest urban agglomeration, has a well-established suburban railway network, which dates back to 1931, when services began on the metre-gauge line from Beach to Tambaram. The Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) is an elevated line of the urban mass transit system (metro-like cityrail) in Chennai (Madras), India. The line currently runs within city from Chennai Beach (Madras Beach) to Velachery, covering a distance of 25 km with 21 stations. Despite of full technical and logical separation from the Chennai Suburban Railway, the MRTS is operated by the state-owned Southern Railway (SR), a zone of Indian Railways.

Chennai Metro[edit]

Main article: Chennai Metro

The Chennai Metro is a rapid transit rail system in the Tamil Nadu capital city of Chennai. The Phase I of the project consisting of two corridors is under construction. The elevated section of the project is scheduled to be operational by 2011 and the entire project is scheduled to be completed by the financial year 2014-2015. About 55% of the corridors in Phase I is underground and the remaining elevated. The project is estimated to cost around 14,600 crore (US$3.17 billion) for the two corridors totaling 45 km.


Tamil Nadu has a major international airport, Chennai International Airport, that is connected with 19 countries with more than 169 direct flights every week. This is the third busiest airport in India after Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai) and Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi), has a passenger growth of 18% and is the second-largest cargo hub in the country, after Mumbai. Other international airports present in the state are Coimbatore International Airport and Tiruchirapalli International Airport. Madurai Airport is a customs airport while Salem Airport and Tuticorin Airport are domestic airports which connect their respective cities to other parts of the country. Increased industrial activity has given rise to an increase in passenger traffic as well as freight movement which has been growing at over 18 per cent per year.[8]


Chennai Port in 1996

Tamil Nadu has three major seaports at Chennai, Ennore and Tuticorin, as well as one intermediate port, at Nagapattinam (Seven other minor ports including Cuddalore and Nagapattinam).[9] Chennai Port is an artificial harbour situated on the Coromandel Coast in South-East India and it is the second principal port in the country for handling containers. Ennore Port handles all the coal and ore traffic in Tamil Nadu. The volume of cargo in the ports grew by 13 per cent during 2005.[10][11] Chennai port is India's second busiest container hub, handling general industrial cargo, automobiles, etc.[12] An additional container terminal is being constructed, as well. Chennai Port has 21 alongside berths in three distinct zones of the Chennai port namely the Ambedkar Dock (inner harbour to handle passenger, general cargo and containers), Jawahar Dock (to handle coal, fertiliser, other bulk and break bulk cargo) and Bharathi Dock (outer harbour accommodates ore and oil handling system and a modern container terminal). The Ennore port currently handles cargo such as coal, ore and bulk and break bulk cargo. A new container terminal is also planned for the Ennore port.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Government of Tamil Nadu. "Highways Department renamed as Highways and Minor Ports Department". Retrieved 15 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Highways Department, Government of Tamil Nadu. "Wings of Highways Department". Retrieved 15 July 2010. 
  3. ^ Tamil Nadu Highways Department. "National Highways wing". Retrieved 15 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "National Highways in Tamil Nadu". Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India. Retrieved 15 July 2010. 
  5. ^ Highways Department, Government of Tamil Nadu. "Highways Circle of Highways Department, Tamil Nadu". Retrieved 15 July 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Tamil Nadu Railway Statistics.
  8. ^ Transportation in Tamil Nadu.
  9. ^ "Tamil Nadu - States and Union Territories - Know India: National Portal of India". 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  10. ^ Official website for Ennore Port.
  11. ^ Official website for Tuticorin Port.
  12. ^ "Gateway to India for Singapore firms". Business Times. July 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 

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