S. Vydhianathan

Reserved accommodation is not available till the first week of June in many trains

Southern Railway has provided nearly 20,000 more berths through special trains

State Express Transport Corporation operates 100 special buses every day

CHENNAI: With the increasing rush in trains and long-distance buses from Chennai, the authorities are finding it tough to meet the demand this summer.

Reserved accommodation is not available till the first week of June in a majority of trains originating from Chennai Central and Egmore. The worst affected are the last-minute passengers who want to make their journey at any cost.

And this is despite the special trains introduced by Southern Railway and additional buses run by transport corporations. Southern Railway has provided nearly 20,000 more berths through special trains, including 8,776 berths for Nagercoil and 9,300 for Thiruvananthapuram.

The special trains apart, additional compartments are added to major trains whenever the number of wait-listed passengers exceeds 300. Yet, 20 per cent of the wait-listed passengers are cancelling their tickets, unable to get reserved accommodation.

Many trains are running with 24 coaches, the maximum a train can handle. Southern Railway is also operating additional trains at weekends, and 95 per cent of the berths in these trains are booked the day the reservation opens. “We have been operating the maximum number of services, yet we are not able to meet the demand as the crowd is unimaginably high,” says Chief Public Relations Officer Neenu Ittyerah.

Passengers feel that for the convenience of last-minute travellers, the railways should add more unreserved coaches to special trains.

Special buses

On its part, the State Express Transport Corporation operates 100 special buses every day to various destinations, including Madurai, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil, Salem, Coimbatore and Tiruchi, besides the regular services. “This apart, we are operating additional services at weekends, which are fully patronised. Passengers who could not get seats in long-distance trains prefer corporation buses,” says the Deputy Manger of the Corporation. For the convenience of passengers, the Corporation is operating AC buses on long-distance routes. “We have also introduced online booking, and soon we will issue e-mail tickets,” he says.

A regular service

Omnibuses have become a regular service in the State. Nearly 500-600 buses are being operated daily from Chennai to various destinations, mostly in the south. Fares are at least 60-75 per cent more than the train and bus fares, but they offer more comforts such as pushback seats.

Heavy tax

An omnibus operator denies that these buses are fleecing passengers.

Admitting that the fare is one-and-half times more than the train or bus fares, he says this is due to the heavy tax imposed by the government.

There has been a continuous increase in the tax per seat every year, he argues.

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