TAMIL NADU

MRTS too fails them

CHENNAI SEPT. 6. When the roads failed them, the public turned to the `flying train', only to be let down again, on the occasion of the Indian Air Force air show on the Marina today.

Lack of preparedness on the part of railway authorities to handle the huge crowd that laid siege to trains led to confusion at the MRTS stations in the Tirumayilai - Beach section.

The problem started from around 10 a.m., when the services were delayed by at least 20 minutes. The delay continued till early evening. Normalcy was restored only at around 6 p.m. Even the coaches that started at Tirumayilai were overcrowded, with youth managing to travel on `footboards'. In a train that arrived late at Chintadripet, commuters, who were eager to reach the Marina in time for the air show, tried to dislodge the guard from his cabin and force their way in.

Many commuters felt the railway authorities could have run a nine-car rake to manage the crowds better, instead of the regular three-car unit. However, the first nine-car EMU started from Tirumayilai at 2 p.m. and the next service was operated at around 2-45 p.m. The number of people waiting to board the train came down only after the arrival of the two nine-car services, commuters said.

Soon after the show was over, a large crowd moved towards the stations. But, once again, they were disappointed. With limited staff in the stations, there was delay in issuing tickets.

At Triplicane, the crowd, which surged forward to buy the tickets, damaged the glasspanes of counters. Authorities downed the shutters for some time, until order was restored, with the help of RPF personnel.

Record collection

A record collection was made in six hours at all MRTS stations, with the cash registers showing a total of Rs. 1.30 lakhs.

In contrast, the routine collection on `normal' Saturdays comes up to merely Rs. 4,000, according to railway officials. The collection increased more than 10 fold in the Tirumayilai, Light House, Triplicane and Chepauk stations.

The officials admitted they had not anticipated the number of people who would use the service. Had they been intimated advance, the officials said they would have replaced the normal three-car rakes with six-car ones. Only after frantic calls from various station officials for increasing the frequency and the number of coaches, did the administration run two special nine-car rakes.

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