S. Vijay Kumar

By handling 45 lakh passengers this summer, which is 15.4 per cent more than last year

MADURAI: The Madurai Division of the Southern Railway has recorded a significant growth in passenger traffic by handling 45 lakh passengers this summer, which is 15.4 per cent more compared to previous year.

The division stood second in the zone next to Palghat that recorded the highest of 16.9 per cent growth in passenger traffic.

The comparative statistics of April-May (2005-06 and 2006-07) on passenger earnings and traffic front reveal that Thiruvananthapuram Division topped others by earning Rs. 65.27 crore, thanks to the introduction of new trains. Among the five divisions, Tiruchi was placed last both on the passenger earnings and traffic front with a growth of 4 per cent and 8.2 per cent respectively.

Telescopic contribution

According to senior railway officials, the withdrawal of telescopic benefit that came into effect from April 1 this year had contributed to the earnings.

"The withdrawal of telescopic benefit led to a fare hike of more than 35 per cent on many routes. The extra reservation charge of Rs. 10 on tickets with originating station other than the place of booking also enhanced the revenue. However, the telescopic benefit is being restored from June 15," an official said.

Passenger growth in Madurai division was more compared to Chennai, Tiruchi and Thiruvananthapuram divisions. A major chunk of the bookings was in the Nagercoil-Madurai-Chennai Egmore section that had emerged the busiest corridor in the southern broad gauge stream.

Despite the ongoing gauge conversion works, Madurai earned well on the passenger and freight earnings.

According to the Divisional Railway Manager, B.N. Rajasekhar, the freight revenue increased by Rs. 6.23 crore this year, owing to enhanced loading of gypsum and coal from Tuticorin Port.

"There is a steady growth in this corridor. We operated 166 special trains during April-May in 2006," he told The Hindu on Wednesday.

Mr. Rajasekhar said passenger amenities were being developed at important stations in the division. Retiring rooms in Madurai would be modernised with facilities such as colour television, room service, state-of-the-art interiors etc, he added.

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