Chennai

The time-table is new but old problems bog suburban train services

With train services extended beyond Tambaram, people are unable to board slow trains because of overcrowding, says a commuter. B. Velankanni Raj

With train services extended beyond Tambaram, people are unable to board slow trains because of overcrowding, says a commuter. B. Velankanni Raj  

Popular for being a reliable and affordable option for commuters from far-flung suburbs, the infrastructure is unable to meet the rising demand

The Southern Railway’s suburban train services are gaining in popularity in the city’s southern corridor. The availability of more train services during peak hours, and the extension of the train services beyond Tambaram to Chengalpattu, have earned suburban trains the reputation of a dependable and economical public transport service at the cost of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC). Though the MTC has remained the top public transporter in the city ferrying 41 lakh people per day, the suburban train commuter population has been steadily increasing and now stands at 12.50 lakh per day.

Packed rakes

The Southern Railway, while announcing the new time-table for suburban services, has increased the train services on the Chennai Beach-Tambaram/Chengalpattu section to once every seven minutes. However, the 12-car rakes between Chennai Beach-Tambaram are running so packed that commuters are asking for a higher number of shorter services.

R. Manoj, a resident of Selaiyur, said he was finding it increasingly difficult to even board the suburban train services from Tambaram as a number of trains are being extended to Chengalpattu. He said the only saving grace was the re-introduction of fast local trains, which have helped office-goers in reaching their destination on time. Previously, commuters boarding at Tambaram did not face difficulty in boarding, but with train services extended beyond Tambaram, commuters are unable to board slow trains because of overcrowding. Mr. Manoj said that as the Tambaram Railway Station had few platforms, suburban trains were often kept waiting outside the railway station for the signal to proceed. He wanted the Southern Railway to operate more slow train services from Tambaram and shorter services from St. Thomas Mount during peak hours to ease commuter congestion.

Most despondent

The most despondent lot among the suburban commuters are those using the Avadi/ Thiruvallur-Chennai Beach/ Moore Market complex suburban railway station. The western corridor being the oldest suburban railway service stretch in the city, commuters said it was ironic that this section had been neglected by railway authorities for decades.

A. Roy Rozario, president, Railway Passengers Association, Pattabhiram, said the Railway Department had suburban trains at a 7-minute frequency on the Beach-Tambaram section and trains were available at an interval of 10 minutes on the Beach-Velachery stretch. However, he claimed that the frequency of suburban services on the Chennai-Avadi/Tiruvallur section was poor, with services available only at an interval of 30 to 40 minutes during peak hours.

Paucity of platforms

Mr. Rozario, a retired Railway official himself, said the lack of platforms in some railway stations was the reason why fast locals were being operated on the slow track, and claimed that platform construction in many railway stations for the fast track line had been pending for years. He also faulted Railway officials for not taking feedback while drawing up the new time-table, in which there are no train services for residents of Avadi between 10 a.m. to 10.35 a.m., as short train services from Arakkonam, Thiruvallur and Avadi short are bunched and operated within a gap of 10 minutes. Residents of Avadi and beyond pointed out they were dependent on suburban train services as bus services to these areas were infrequent and costly.

Merged, extended

A senior official of the Southern Railway said that according to the new time-table introduced from July 1, which was slightly rearranged taking into consideration feedback from commuters, seven new trains had been introduced, eight passenger specials turned into regular services, and nine train services extended or merged for better connectivity.

The waiting time for train services on the Chennai Beach-Tambaram/Chengalpattu section had been reduced from eight minutes to seven minutes, and 12-car rakes had been regularised during peak hours.

Chennai Beach-Tambaram/Chengalpattu has the highest number of train services among the four sections (at 226 services), followed by the MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) at 140 services, and the Thiruvallur/Avadi section having a total of 126 services.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 12:40:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/the-time-table-is-new-but-old-problems-bog-suburban-train-services/article28693011.ece

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