Introduction of 11 new trains, including five from various cities in Tamil Nadu, extension of six services, and increase in frequency of one train were the highlight of new Southern Zone time-table released here on Friday. The new time-table comes into effect from November 1.

Normally the new time-table is released on July 1 every year. But this year it was delayed by four months due to operational reasons, according to a railway official.

Of the five new trains planned for Tamil Nadu, the Duronto (non-stop service) Express from Chennai Central to Nizamuddin was already in operation. The date of introduction of other four trains viz Tirunelveli – Bilaspur Weekly Superfast Express, Tirunelveli - Hapa Bi-weekly Superfast Express (both via Trivandrum and Ernakulam), Rameswaram – Kanniakumari Express (via Madurai) and Coimbatore – Shoranur Express will be notified later. The Jammu Tawi – Madurai weekly Express will be extended to Tirunelveli, the Mangalore – Chennai Central Express to Puducherry, and Ernakulam – Tiruchi Express to Nagore on both directions. The frequency of Chennai Central – Mangalore Express now running three times a week will be made a daily service soon.

Releasing the time table, Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed said as against 9 new trains introduced in last year’s (Southern Zone) time-table, 11 trains had been budgeted for the current financial year, the highest in recent years. The number of originating passengers in the current financial year had increased by 8.2 per cent till September compared to the same period last year. The passenger earnings had also increased by 4 per cent. To cope with the increased passenger demand, Southern Railway is running large number of specials. The number of specials had gone up to 1,020 till September this year from 912 during the same period last year. The earnings from specials had increased from Rs. 22 crore to 30 crore.

To meet the increasing demand from Sabarimala pilgrims, the zone had planned 162 specials this season as against 138 during the last season. A large number of special trains for Pongal and New Year had also been planned for various high demand cities such as Tuticorin, Nagercoil and Coimbatore, he added.

According to a railway press release the delay in completion of Villupuram – Mayiladuthurai gauge conversion has affected the introduction of 5 new trains and the extension of two services on the section. These services were announced in various budgets. The Chennai Egmore – Nagore Express and Bhubaneswar – Rameswaram Express (2007 budget), Chennai Egmore – Tiruchi Day Express, and Villupuram – Mayiladuthurai Passengers (two pairs) (2008 budget), and Madurai – Chennai Egmore (Bi-weekly Express) in the current budget. Extension of Bangalore – Salem passenger to Nagore and Varanasi – Chennai Egmore to Rameswaram is also postponed due to delay in gauge conversion.

Southern Railway General Manager M.S. Jayanth said the section would be opened by January as some work on passenger amenities were going on.