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Updated: August 6, 2010 01:12 IST

Metro Rail may take over MRTS

Ajai Sreevatsan
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The MRTS segment, currently being operated by the Southern Railway, is likely to be taken-over by the Chennai Metro Rail Limited once the Metro becomes operational.

This will create one authority which will be in control of all the elevated rail networks in the city. Once the merger takes effect, the ‘normal' EMUs that run on the MRTS will be replaced by air-conditioned rakes that have automatic doors.

Speaking to The Hindu on Wednesday, T.V. Somanathan, Managing Director, Chennai Metro Rail, said that it made logical sense to integrate the two systems. “The MRTS is a loss making enterprise and not going to cost much to take-over. The State government has already invested two-thirds in the project. The modalities are yet to be worked out, but by the time the Metro becomes operational, the accumulated loss incurred by the Railway might have compensated for the equity invested by them.”

When a north-south-east corridor along the Buckingham Canal was conceived by the Madras Area Traffic Study Unit (MATSU) way back in the 1970s, it was estimated to cater for six lakh passengers a day. Currently, on an average, only about 70,000 commuters use the MRTS every day.

While operational expense on the network is about Rs.18 lakh per day, earnings amount to around Rs.3 lakh per day. In effect, the MRTS incurs an annual operational loss of Rs.54.7 crore. By 2013, the accumulated operational loss would have compensated for the 33 per cent investment made by the Southern Railway in Phase-II (Tirumailai to Velachery) of the project.

According to Mr. Somanathan, since the MRTS would connect to the Metro at both ends through inter-modal transit points, the ‘network effect' created by synchronised operations will be beneficial for both the networks.

“It is a part of the Ministry of Urban Development's thinking as well,” he added.

R. Ramanathan, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Southern Railway, said that negotiations have to start from scratch. “Right now, we are just concentrating on finishing the extension up to St.Thomas Mount.”

One of the major reasons for the failure of MRTS has been the lack of connectivity. It exists as an isolated, linear network that runs through areas of the city that are mostly institutional in character. Originally, the total length of the MRTS was envisaged to be 59.38 km, creating a circular corridor from the Chennai Beach to Ennore/Tiruvottiyur (industrial zones north of Chennai). The circular corridor was given up in light of the Metro project. The merger is aimed at providing overall integration and improving connectivity.

V. Thamizh Arasan, Head of Transportation Engineering Division, IIT-Madras, said, “It will be administratively convenient to operate a single system. Transport management will also be better under a single agency.”

According to him, commercial exploitation of stations, which has had many false starts, might have a better chance if the merger takes place.

More In: Chennai

I use mrts when I visit chennai . The stations are very badly maintained. The commercial space in the station is unused.the approach roads to the station is nt usable. I often see people using them as toilets

from:  Raj
Posted on: Mar 15, 2012 at 01:28 IST

Ills of MRTS are long intervals, non-connectivity to stations and mindset to travel by bus from doorstep despite overcrowding. Both rail and road transport warrant a fresh look. MRTS can have trains to Tiruvotriyur, Ambattur/Avadi and Beach on alternative timings which will take the frequency to Beach to 10 minutes. MTC should ply local shutles / min bus to MRTS station from nearest colony / bus stand say in 3 km distance. Taking off some load is good for MTC and roadusers.

from:  S.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Jan 31, 2011 at 22:32 IST

Integrating Metro and MRTS is a very good idea which can bring synergy. In fact bringing all the transport systems of the city including other 2 modes of Suburban Railway lines and MTC will help to provide integrated services. MRTS should also commercialize the stations and make them commercial complexes. Currently most of them are lying idle

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Nov 5, 2010 at 10:43 IST

Dynesh: Excellent comments. Chennai deserves an integrated transportation network. With about 180 kms of mass transit tracks (Metro + MRTS + three suburban rail lines) and an extensive bus network, the city has the potential have one of the best public transportation systems in the world. But only with good management of the infrastructure. And for that, a unified authority is critical. Other arrangements such as creating a body to oversee transportation agencies is ok on paper, but does not work in the turf and red-tape prone bureaucracies prevalent in India. Delhi is an example as well, where despite a well-executed metro network, its full potential is still not being realized due to absence of full coordination between agencies.

from:  Sridhar
Posted on: Nov 2, 2010 at 22:18 IST

Considering the amount of bureaucracy involved, this proposal may never see the light. Even though it is a great attempt, a unified transport authority for Chennai involving the Metro, MRTS and MTC is a definite need of the hour. Since the state government is a lead equity holder in the first two and solely owns the last, a great push needs to be given to have all these three integrated.

Common ticketing, free transfers, running more Air Conditioned green buses working as feeders will be of great convenience to Chennai residents. Given the fact that MRTS runs through major slums of Chennai, this move may also act as a facelift for our City.

from:  Rajasekaran Elangovan
Posted on: Aug 18, 2010 at 00:42 IST

If they connect the MRTS & CMRL together it will be easy for the person who is residening in Tharamani and Velacher to go to Vadapalani, Anna Nagar etc.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Aug 9, 2010 at 17:20 IST

While this is an excellent idea, it is pointless to consider integrating the CMRL and the MRTS without also including the MTC within the remit of that merger. The MRTS does suffer from a debilitating sense of isolation, but when the stations were built they were all given bus bays for MTC services to use.

Obviously the locations of the stations made that inconvenient but there would have been ways around it if the MTC had made an effort to integrate its services. Get the MTC on board any unified transport authority or else it will remain, in effect, a competitor with lower ticket prices and a wider network. A unified transport authority capable of operating a common ticket system is key to promoting public transport.

Also, there is absolutely no mention of the fact that while Southern Railway might give up the MRTS they will still be running suburban rail services on the 3 lines out of Beach/Moore Market. As those lines play a major role in the public transport system, surely they would come under the scope of any unified authority? At the very least, any future common ticketing systems should include the suburban railway too.

from:  Dynesh Vijayaraghavan
Posted on: Aug 7, 2010 at 02:47 IST

This is a good idea. They should also do it in Delhi.

from:  Prasenjit
Posted on: Aug 6, 2010 at 17:39 IST

This is a long pending move. Unless MRTS stations are improved, trains made better and the approach roads made safer, the system will not improve.

I hope, CMRL will be able to provide all these. MRTS runs through many slums and low income localities. This is a massive opportunity for the re-development of these areas and pave way for numerous low cost housing facilities, complexes for self help group to set shops etc. MRTS can be backbone for such re-vitalized communities.

Till now, MRTS has remained a wasted opportunity. At least now, I hope it'll take its rightful place in city transport map.

from:  Vijay V
Posted on: Aug 6, 2010 at 17:17 IST

Anything which makes the metro viable is welcome. It is sad that the MRTS, which is convenient and cheap is not patronised. Even worse, people shell more on autos and MTC which sees it as a competitor.

If MRTS comes under the Metro, state government can prune the bus services so that the buses act as feeder to Metro/MRTS/suburban stations. This will help reduce the overcrowding in MTC buses

from:  Ravi Kiran K.
Posted on: Aug 6, 2010 at 13:00 IST

The MRTS in Madras(Chennai) is incurring loss due to non connectivity between main places. If it is connected with St.Thomas Mount, it will be gained. This line may be extended to North Madras since similar circular line is successfully running in Singapore.

from:  T.S. Prasakam
Posted on: Aug 6, 2010 at 05:18 IST
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