|Native name||பேரளம்–காரைக்கால் இருப்புப்பாதை|
(Restoration Under progress)
|Locale||Tamil Nadu; Puducherry|
|Termini||Peralam Junction (PEM)
|Opened||14 March 1898|
|Owner||French East India Company (former)
Indian Railways (present)
|Operator(s)||Great South Indian Railway (former)
South Indian Railway Company (later)
Southern Railway zone (present)
|Line length||23.5 km (14.6 mi)|
|Track gauge||gauge conversion to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)|
|Old gauge||1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)|
|Operating speed||23 km/h (14 mph)|
This metre gauge branch line between Peralam Junction and Karaikal was approved for construction by French India during December 1895. The French government invested about 1,201,840 ₣ (approximately ₹1.51 crore (US$240,000) in 2014) for the construction, which was done by the then Great South Indian Railway (which was later merged with South Indian Railway Company) and opened on 14 March 1898.
With a route length of 23.5 kilometres (14.6 mi), the line had four stations Ambagarattur, Paruttikudi, Thirunallar and Karikovilpathu within a stretch of 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi) up to karaikal, all falling within the territory of French India (now Karaikal district). The rest of 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) between Ambagarattur and Peralam falls within British India region (now Tiruvarur district).
Though owned by French India, the operations were transferred to the then Great South Indian Railway in accordance with agreement signed in 1902. There were 4 up-and-down services, but due improvement in road connectivity the earnings dropped and subsequently the services were reduced to one in 1943. After Indian Independence and Railway Re-organisation, the line fell into the jurisdiction of Tiruchirappalli railway division. In 1967, citing under utilisation of the line for passenger traffic in its transport survey, the National Council for Applied and Economic Research recommended for closure of line.
This line provided rail connectivity to Karaikal port and transfer of goods through rail into British India, as this line would give further connectivity to Mayiladuthurai Junction, which falls on the main line. Cement, fertilisers, tiles, timber, kerosene oil, rice, wheat, grains, pulses and paddy were the main goods involved in traffic. Raw materials like pressed cotton and coal for textile mills and iron billets for Pondicherry Rolling Mills were brought in, processed and the finished product was supplied all over the country. Though the goods traffic density fared better, the passenger traffic slumped and services were called off except the rolling stock.
Due to persistent demand from various quarters, revival of line gained momentum for surveying the feasibility outside the purview of Railway Budget, which proposed a rough estimate of about ₹110 crore (US$17 million). Officially, the line was taken up for survey as the announcement came in the 2013–2014 Railway Budget, at an outlay of ₹10 lakh (US$16,000) and at an estimate of about ₹120 crore (US$19 million) for full-fledged activities. Apart from retaining the four railway stations in the past and laying broad gauge tracks in the same old path, detour lines of about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) is planned at Peralam Junction and about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) for Tirunallar yard.
- "Communications - Railways". Karaikal district. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
- Somerset Playne; J. W. Bond (1914). Arnold Wright, ed. Southern India: Its History, People, Commerce, and Industrial Resources. Chennai: Asian Education Services. pp. 534, 595. ISBN 9788120613447. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Chapter VII - Communications-Railways" (PDF). Government of Puducherry. Directorate of Economics and Statistics. pp. 3–6. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Chapter VII - Communications-Ferries and Bridges (Railways)" (PDF). Government of Puducherry. Directorate of Economics and Statistics. p. 1. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Karaikal-Peralam rail line to be revived". The Hindu. Karaikal. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- P. V. Srividya (10 March 2012). "Salem-Karaikal line survey almost over". The Hindu. Karaikal. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Railway Budget: 2013–2014 (Southern Railway)" (PDF). Ministry of Railways (India). Southern Railway zone. p. 1. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Karaikal-Peralam line survey begins". The Hindu. Karaikal. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Chennai-Karaikal rail project to be implemented soon: Union Minister V Narayanasamy". The Economic Times. Karaikal. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Committee to study Karaikal-Peralam line project proposal". The Hindu. Karaikal. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.