Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching MMTS Phase-II operations between Secunderabad-Medchal and Falaknuma-Umdanagar sections has got citizens excited, but it needs to be tempered with realism, considering the infrastructure available and also, the manner in which South Central Railway (SCR) has been running MMTS Phase-I operations.
The fact is that there is no new train set or rake available for the new services, but what has helped the railway authorities is the curtailment of MMTS Phase-I from 121 services a day in the pre-pandemic era to 80-odd services now and 30 more services cut every weekend for “maintenance” and “lack of patronage”.
Senior railway officials said the operations and commercial wings will be able to run both the Phase-I services between Hyderabad-Secunderabad-Lingampalli-Falaknuma sections and also the newly-built sections up to Medchal and Umdanagar of Phase II, thanks to existing curtailed services with the 12 train sets available.
Clearly, SCR has been caught off-guard by the launch because only last month, senior officials had informed that the MMTS Phase-II services would be launched towards the year-end and harped on the pending dues from the State government.
The two sections — Secunderabad-Bolarum-Medchal line and also Falaknuma-Umdanagar were ready more than a year ago, but services were not run despite representations made by Suburban Train & Bus Travellers Association and others, to run services at regular frequency to get necessary public support. The completed RC Puram-Telapur-Lingampalli section was also not being utilised properly, with one early morning and a late night service being run only.
Since diesel suburban train services were earlier run on these routes towards Medchal and Umdanagar, old stations can be used for these but some like Safilguda, Ammuguda, RK Puram, Bolarum Bazar and others are in a bad shape with broken infrastructure, and lacks ticket booking facility, foot overbridges, toilet or drinking water facility. Besides, there is no security.
Stations like Malkajgiri, Medchal, Lalaguda and Bolarum are much better off. Earlier, contract staff and private security guards were working in some of these stations to issue tickets and provide security. There is no word about any arrangements for this aspect.
Senior railway officials themselves admit the demand is for assured timely services towards Hi-Tech City, but any passenger from Medchal has to change local train at Secunderabad station now, making it a wee bit complicated. If trains are run at specified timings at least during peak hours of morning and evening, there are many people ready to give up on travelling by clogged roads and hop on these trains — this the common refrain of citizens living along these sections.
On the other hand, there are at least five level crossings where road overbridges or underbridges have to be built, or people living en route have to endure locked gates and more traffic jams frequently than before.
MMTS Phase-II project cost, which has ballooned to ₹1,150 from ₹816 crore on account of nearly two decades of delay in construction has also increased the State government’s remaining share (two-third of total cost) to about ₹500 crore. The Secunderabad-Moula Ali and Kacheguda-Sitaphalmandi-Malkajgiri Chordline sections are also not yet completed.