The city did not find much of a place in the Railway budget, leaving commuters and activists largely unhappy. However, announcement of a range of IT-enabled services, quality IRCTC food and cleanliness at stations were a source of relief to some sections of rail users
The maiden Railway budget of the Narendra Modi government has come as a disappointment for Chennaites as there are no major announcements for the city pertaining to trains, except for express trains.
On the other hand, there are some groups of frequent rail commuters, especially the youth, who are excited about the slew of announcements, including WiFi access, online ordering of food and providing workstations within compartments. The older section of the population is happy about the introduction of a pilgrimage tour, and the post office booking facility.
Railway minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda in his speech on Tuesday had announced the augmentation of running speed till 200 kmph on the Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai and Chennai-Hyderabad routes in order to bring down running time. A tourist train from Rameshwaram, covering pilgrimage and tourist places like Bangalore, Chennai, Ayodhya, Varanasi and Haridwar, was also announced.
“Chennaites would have been happy if the government had increased EMU trains,” said K.S. Gopalakrishnan, former member of various railway users’ consultation committees. A huge chunk of EMU services have been allotted to Mumbai.
Guruprasad, writing from his twitter handle @ bangalorehuduga, said it was necessary to have fast trains from Beach to Chengalpattu to reduce travel time and increase patronage of the service. He also suggested that frequency of trains should be increased during peak hours.
“This is a very valid issue. Even if Metro Rail or Mono Rail is introduced, the suburban trains will remain an important transport mode for Chennai. There should have been some announcement pertaining to it,” said T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist.
Many users of the city’s suburban services feel the introduction of automatic doors in the trains would be beneficial. “It is very useful to prevent footboard travel on trains which is becoming a common sight in the suburbs. It will also prevent beggars from entering the compartments. The minister has announced that a pilot project will be taken up,” says S. Adikesav, a frequent commuter.
Many other rail users said they had expected introduction of more trains to southern districts. However, some feel that even if trains are introduced, there is no proper infrastructure to maintain them.