Southern Railway is yet to operate night service till midnight on this section
A massive shed for preventive maintenance of Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) rakes in Velachery, spread over 44 hectares, has been lying in disuse for the past five years.
Even after creating the facility, Southern Railway authorities are yet to operate an MRTS night service till midnight on this section. Among the various reasons cited for non-operation, Railway sources identify shortage of manpower and an inadequate number of rakes as the two primary ones.
At present, 68 services from Beach and an equal number from Velachery are operated on weekdays. On weekends, the services are reduced to 48 each from Beach and Velachery railway stations.
Earlier, the Railway Board had approved the operation of two additional night services between Beach and Velachery. As per the plan, the schedule was: one train would leave Beach Station at 9.40 p.m. and reach Velachery at 10.25 p.m.; the second one would leave Beach at 10.20 p.m. and would reach Velachery at 11.05 p.m. In the return direction, the first train would leave from Velachery at 10.30 p.m. and reach Beach station at 11.15 p.m. The second service from Velachery would leave at 11.10 p.m. and would reach Beach station at 11.55 p.m. However, these two additional services could not be operated due to the inadequate number of rakes, a Railway officer said.
A senior officer said the Railways had already recruited a number of assistant loco pilots, who are presently undergoing training. Once they completed the training programme, they would be posted for the operation of train services. As far as the rakes were concerned, the authorities were taking steps to procure them from the Integral Coach Factory with the consent of the Railway Board. However, the officer said, there was a shortage in the number of guards too.
Stations lack facilities
Residents who frequently commute by the MRTS trains said poor approach roads and facilities prevented many, particularly women, from taking the trains after sunset.
B. Muthu Kumar, a season ticket holder, said the approach road near the Perungudi railway station, for instance, was often flooded. Commuters had to wade through dirty water, which also posed a major health hazard, he said.
A recent visit to the Kotturpuram station revealed rampant misuse by anti-social elements. Railway Protection Force (RPF) officers said due to shortage of manpower, one constable had to cover at least two stations. The insufficient security led to the misuse of the massive station premises, conceded a senior RPF officer.
Commuters suggested that on the lines of the arrangement for the Tambaram – Beach section, a sufficient number of Government Railway Police personnel could be posted on the MRTS section to work in co-ordination with the RPF.
A while ago, a proposal for private security at the stations between Chintadripet and Velachery was mooted. However, the plan was shelved. RPF authorities had also procured nearly 100 CCTV cameras for increasing surveillance in the stations. But, these cameras are yet to be installed, said a senior railway officer.