A senior Ministry official said the plan would be submitted to the Railway Board next week immediately after the Union cabinet clears it.
Currently, about 7% of container traffic (7.69 million tonnes) is transported through two railway lines at the port. The proposed third and fourth lines are expected to increase the cargo traffic from 7% to 30% within two years.
CPT Chairman Mr. Atulya Misra said the additional lines would help reduce the congestion on city roads. "While we take efforts to develop better roads, it is also necessary to have advanced railway connectivity so that roads are free of container trucks," said Mr. Misra.
“The third and fourth lines will be laid by the railways soon," he added. At present, about 5,000 container trucks ply on city roads.
The port management was not keen on the railway project as it had a handful of road infrastructure projects. "Since road improvement projects are caught up in bottlenecks, administrative hurdles and are likely to get delayed further, we are looking at railway freighter services," said a senior port official.
He said CPT had already identified the land for laying the additional two lines and were finalizing the land values.
Official sources said the regional railway authority and the port management completed the preliminary discussions on the project. Port officials said four private players, including international exporters and fertilizer manufacturers, have shown interest in bringing in cargo through rail.
Mr. S Anantharaman, divisional railway manager, Southern Railways, said the Railways is ready to tie up with Chennai port in evacuating the cargo.
"Be it container or any other cargo, we do not have any constraints. We can also supply adequate number of wagons and locomotives," he said.