CHENNAI: It has been two months since Chennai division of Southern Railway completed platform extension works in Chennai-Arakkonam and Chennai-Gummidipoondi sections to accommodate 12 car local trains. But rail commuters continue to suffer in fully loaded EMU trains as railways has failed to augment nine-car rakes.
The primary reason attributed for the delay in augmenting the suburban section is lack of additional EMU coaches, official sources said.
The railway board has not sanctioned the additional EMU coaches to Southern Railway for the last few years, despite repeated pleas. The EMU coaches manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory have been allotted mostly to Mumbai suburban section, followed by Kolkata suburban section.
The Chennai division has estimated that it requires an additional 120 EMU coaches to augment nine-car rakes operated in Chennai – Arakkonam and Chennai-Gummidipoondi section into 12 car formations.
According to official records, about five lakh passengers travelled in Chennai-Arakkonam section a day in 115 services. “Once the section is completely augmented with 12 cars, 55,000 more passengers can travel a day without congestion,” said railway officials.
Similarly, with 74 services, Chennai-Gummidipoondi carries about 1.6 lakh passengers a day. Making nine-car formation into 12-car rakes will increase passenger carrying capacity by 25,000.
In February, though two 12-car EMU rakes were introduced in Chennai-Tiruvallur-Arakkonam section, rail passengers said congestion in western suburbs will ease only if all office hour trains have 12 cars.
K Baskar, a member of Divisional Rail Users’ consultative Committee and also secretary of Tiruvallur Rail Passengers Association, said passengers find no space even for standing in two EMU fast locals to Central that starts from Arakkonam at 6.40 am and 7.15 am. “Rail commuters travel without adequate space. The two trains should be augmented with 12 cars immediately,” he said.
He added that local trains operated from Chennai Moore Market Complex between 5 pm and 8.30 pm should also be augmented at the earliest.
Officials said the available spare coaches at both Tambaram and Avadi car sheds were utilised and further augmentation of coaches may get delayed.
“We are also exploring the options to extend a few Chennai-Tiruvallur EMU trains up to Arakkonam to cater to additional demand,” said a senior railway officer.