As earnings increase, Tiruvallur pleads for more express train halts

TIRUVALLUR: Every time P Munusamy, a resident of Tiruninravur, has to catch a train to Coimbatore or Bengaluru, the very thought tires him out.

The 40-year-old has to go to Chennai Central, 34km away, to board the Bengaluru Mail or Cheran Express as these two are among many of such express trains that do not have a stoppage at Tiruvallur station, less than 15km fromTiruninravur

Munusamy’s predicament is shared by thousands from areas in the vicinity of Tiruvallur town, like Sriperumbudur, Poonamallee and Pattabiram.

Of the 50-odd trains bound for Mumbai, Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Kerala, only 10 stop at Tiruvallur, the headquarters of Tiruvallur district. Rest have a stop only at Arakkonam, 37km from Tiruvallur station.

However, in the southern direction, all express trains stop at Tambaram and Chengalpet after starting from Chennai. This is despite the two stations being at a distance of only 25km and 50km from Chennai. None of two are district headquarters but have been given the privilege following the urban expansion in that direction.

Currently, Southern Railway is carrying out a yard modification work at Arakkonam, diverting express trains via Tiruthani and stopping some suburban services at intermediate Tiruvalangadu station. Despite that no temporary stoppage has been created at Tiruvallur.

Sources say a recent proposal by the Chennai division to have Tiruvallur as a temporary stoppage was shot down by the SR headquarters, the final authority as far as allocating new stoppages are concerned.

Factors like operational efficiency, earnings and footfalls from the station are considered for adding stoppages, officials said.

Data show that yearly earnings from Tiruvallur have increased from ?7.05 crore in 2012-13 to ?12.43 crore in 2016-17. Chengalpet, where all express trains stop, earned ?12.49 crore in 16-17.

Tiruvallur is also the fourth most populated district in the state and the population is likely to increase given the migration from Chennai due to cheap accommodations.

An official said there has to be at least 40-50 reserved tickets booked for a distance of 500km for a period of few months to be considered as a stoppage for majority of trains. Official data show there is not much of a difference in the earnings from reserved ticket sales at Tiruvallur and Chengalpet.

While accepting that the demand is genuine, railway officials say it is unlikely to be entertained as it would increase the running time of the trains.

“A stoppage of two minutes would impact the running time by at least 10 minutes. Currently, trains speed up to Arakkonam,” an officer said. However, a few years ago, express trains were given stoppages at stations like Wallajah Road when R Velu, who was from the area, was the MoS, railways.

“All stoppages should be reviewed and some trains can be stopped at deserving stations like Tiruvallur,” the officer said. Abraham Jacob, who was chief operations manager, Southern Railway till 2011, said Tiruvallur has emerged as a metropolis and it was a genuine requirement.

“Railways should do a survey to find out which trains are frequently used by Tiruvallur residents and give stoppage accordingly,” he said, adding a similar decision for Avadi took 20 years to implement.