“Use of EMU services down on Sundays”

Aloysius Xavier Lopez

Railways not concerned about revenue as suburban services are heavily subsidised: official

CHENNAI: EMU suburban services occupancy has reduced by around 20 per cent on Sundays in the city, an official of the Southern Railway told The Hindu on Friday.

The Southern Railway recently implemented its decision to reduce the number of EMU suburban services on all Sundays with effect from January 18. It attributed this decision to less patronage in sections such as Chennai Beach-Tambaram, Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu and Chennai Beach-Velachery.

The official, however, said that the number of passengers of suburban services taken as a whole had increased by 11 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.

The services on Sundays in the Chennai Beach – Tambaram section were reduced by around 50 per cent with the decrease in the number of suburban services from 162 to 86. The reduction in the Chennai Beach – Velachery section was from 126 to 88. The Chennai Beach – Chengalpattu services were reduced from 72 to 70.

After implementation of the decision , many people said that there were a large number of passengers on Sunday. “I had to restlessly wait for a longer period ,” said S. Saravanan, a commuter.

“There was crowding also in the psychological sense of the term. I do not take my car frequently as I want to support the public transport. The decision of the railways will only make more people gradually shift to other modes of transport,” he said.

According to T. Ravikumar, president of All India Rail and Bus Passengers’ Welfare Association, “The railways should think of long-term goals of making more people use suburban services in the city. They should not think of short-term goals such as reducing operating costs. When experts express concern about traffic congestion with the increase in the number of vehicles on the road and the need for encouraging public mode of transport, this move of the railways will only make matters worse.”

According to railway officials, the occupancy was low from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and beyond 8 p.m. However, the official said that the railways were not concerned about reduction of revenue as the suburban services in the city were heavily subsidised.

The availability of booking clerks was one of the reasons for the reduction of services, an official said. Railway officials said that they were committed to serving the passengers better and the railways may review the decision if a pressing need arose.

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