Ten years after they were opened, Padi and Anna Nagar railway stations are crying for attention. Trains taking this stretch were put off track in 2007 due to low patronage, and today the stations are in a state of neglect. The tracks at Padi station are covered with thorny bushes and have rusted too. The Anna Nagar station is no better. Of late, it is used by residents for their morning walk.
Both Padi and Anna Nagar railway stations were opened in 2003 as the extended southern arm of the Chennai Central–Arakkonam section of the Chennai Suburban Railway network. While the Padi station is on the arterial Chennai Tiruvallur High Road-Jawaharlal Nehru Salai intersection, Anna Nagar station is on Thirumangalam Road, which connects Anna Nagar West and Villivakkam.
Tracing the story of these two stations, a 3.09 km-long railway line, initially used by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Perambur for moving newly built coaches from shell to furnishing division of the factory, was strengthened at a cost of Rs. 7.29 crore for operating passenger services. Two new stations, namely, Padi and Anna Nagar, were built and 13 existing bridges were renovated and the work was completed in five months. The railway station and the EMU services were inaugurated by the then Union Minister of State for Railways, A. K. Moorthy. Between 2003 and 2007, five suburban trains were run from Anna Nagar to Chennai Beach/ Central via Villivakkam.
The service, however, had a low patronage. The average daily collection at the station was Rs. 450, with about 50 passengers. In 2007, the service was discontinued due to the construction of a rotary at the Padi junction to replace the level-crossing. The rotary was completed in 2009 but services were not resumed.
“Poor revenue as one of the main reasons behind not opening train services is not a reason to stop services on this stretch,” says S. Vedhavalli, a retired teacher. She suggests that if more services were run during peak hours, it would have earned better revenue. Many passengers like her are disappointed.
“Diversion of trains to Chennai Central Railway Station would bring in more commuters from Anna Nagar and its neighborhoods,” says R. Mushfiqur, a resident of Thirumangalam Road. The work on metro rail and flyover near Thirumangalam has added to the traffic snarls on this section reason why people who commute on this stretch want the train service to be restored.