It is not just peak hour commuter rush that amounts to the mad confusion in suburban railway stations.

There is a fair amount of uncertainty among passengers when it comes to positioning themselves on the platform to board the train. Unaware if the approaching train is a 9-car or 12-car one, until it enters the station, commuters make a dash for the compartment of their choice at the last minute since coach positions vary on both rakes.

The situation on the Chennai Beach–Tambaram–Chengalpattu sector is worse on Mondays when apart from the regular office crowd, there are large hordes of people returning to the city from weekend getaways.

Close to 250 services are operated in this sector every day. Twelve-car rakes were introduced a few years ago to increase passenger-carrying capacity on the suburban network.

“Since the 12-cars are operated alongside the 9-car rakes, confusion reigns supreme,” said R. Prakash, a frequent train commuter to Egmore.

Regular commuters like him say they have raised the issue at public grievance forums on several occasions in the past but to no avail.

The issue might seem trivial to the occasional commuter, but is a pressing problem for those who use the service on a regular basis, said S. Anand, a resident of East Tambaram, who travels to Chetpet daily.

A simple solution would be to announce over the public address system if the oncoming train is a 12-car or a 9-car one. Commuters can then wait at the appropriate spots to board the train, Mr. Anand said.

In the past, efforts were made to install digital boards inside compartments so that names of approaching stations could be displayed for passengers’ benefit.

According to Mr. Anand, digital display boards specifying the number of cars in the approaching train is the need of the hour at suburban stations.