Driving from Chintadripet to Tiruvanmiyur can give one a headache with the sun beating down mercilessly and vehicles moving at snail's pace. It would take at least 45 minutes to cover the stretch that is a little more than 15 kms. But on a Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) train, it is a relaxed 20-minute journey.

This thought seems to have prompted many commuters to utilise the service if estimates of revenue earned by MRTS in 2011-2012 are anything to go by. There has been a 16.25 per cent increase in their earnings this year as compared to the last. The revenue during 2010-2011 was Rs. 17.11 crore and it shot up to Rs 19.89 crore in 2011-2012. There are 134 MRTS trains plying across 17 stations transporting 80,000 passengers every day. “It takes a lot of time to travel from one part of the city to the other by road. But MRTS travel is faster,” said S. Anantharaman, Divisional Railway Manager, Chennai Division, Southern Railway.

S. Sushmitha, an IT professional who uses the MRTS to travel from Chintadripet to Taramani finds travelling by train more relaxing than going by road. There is one problem, however. “The roads that lead to the station are bad. Most stretches are used as public toilets and the stench is unbearable,” she said.

Following repeated complaints about the lack of safety on such roads, the railways has decided to put up streetlights. “Talks are on with the Public Works Department to improve the road conditions. We will improve lighting. Women commuters must not panic. In fact, the employee manning the counter at Triplicane station is a woman and she works late into the night,” said a senior railway official.

Steps are also being taken to make effective use of the commercial space available at MRTS stations in Light House, Mandaveli, Greenways Road, Kotturpuram, Kasturba Gandhi Nagar, Indira Nagar, Tiruvanmiyur, Taramani, Perungudi and Velachery stations. “There is a 5,000-sq. m. unused area at each of these stations. The Railways Land Development Authority is working on how to utilise the space best,” the official said.

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Vivek NarayananJune 28, 2012

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