Work on MRTS extension from Velachery to St. Thomas Mount targeted for commissioning in 2012-13
Commuters in the city may find their daily grind easing up a bit with the announcement of 18 additional EMU services in the Railway Budget for 2012-13.
The services announced are on the Chennai Beach-Tambaram, Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu, Chennai Beach-Avadi, Chennai Beach-Tiruttani, Chennai Beach-Gummidipoondi/Sullurpetta and Chennai Beach-Velachery sections.
The work on extension of the MRTS from Velachery to St. Thomas Mount, a long pending project, has been targeted for commissioning during 2012-13. The five-km extension of the MRTS project will have two stations — Puzhuthivakkam and Adambakkam — between Velachery and St. Thomas Mount. The elevated line currently runs between Chennai Beach and Velachery featuring a distance of about 25 km and 17 stoppages en route.
Meanwhile, the State Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 1.97 crore as its share of expenditure for work on the Tirumayilai-Velachery MRTS sector. Frequent travellers between Chennai and Bangalore also have reason to cheer from the Budget with the announcement of a Chennai-Bangalore AC double-decker express as a daily train. The Budget has also committed the Railways to the task of installing integrated security systems at all the 202 identified stations during 2012-13. In Chennai Division, the systems aimed at scaling up vigil with CCTV scanners, door-frame metal detectors and baggage screening devices are being set up at seven key terminals — Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore, Basin Bridge, Beach, Mambalam, Tambaram and Tiruvallur.
The state-of-the-art systems are being installed as part of a national rollout of improved surveillance systems across important stations.
New line surveys proposed to be taken up during 2012-13 include the Chennai-Sriperumbudur (via Guindy and Poonamallee) sector while the new line projects awaiting clearance from the Planning Commission includes the Avadi-Guduvenchery line via Sriperumbudur and Oragadom.
A pre-feasibility study on Royapuram as a viable third terminal has been announced while Tondiarpet has been selected to set up a bio-diesel plant. Sections of civil society have in their initial assessment given the Budget a thumbs-down. V. Rama Rao of Traffic and Transportation Forum said commuters felt let down by the insufficient number of EMU services for Chennai compared to Mumbai.
T.M.N. Deepak, office-bearer of the Tamil Nadu Handicapped Federation Charitable Trust, said the Budget had engaged in “tokenism” while reaching out to the disabled travellers. The Budget proposals failed to address the accessibility of the disabled at railway stations and on trains, he said.
Terming the Budget a “big disappointment”, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled noted that excepting the announcement of disabled friendly coaches, for the introduction of which no time frame has been set, there was nothing to cheer about as far as disabled travellers are concerned.
Muralidharan, its assistant convener, said while the minister claimed that 80,000 vacancies have been filled in the railways, the backlog of vacancies against the quota for the disabled have not been filled. Both organisations criticised the Budget for failing to provide e-ticket reservation against the disability quota.