Workers carry out maintenance at the Basin Bridge train care centre
CHENNAI: Southern Railway will start running eight trains, including return trips, from June 1 within the state as part of steps to resume services in a phased manner. However, the move has received lukewarm response from people as none of them connects Chennai.
Two daily trains are intercity expresses to Madurai that will be operated from Villupuram at 4pm and to Coimbatore that will be operated from Katpadi at 4.20pm instead of from Chennai. Since there is no overnight journey, the trains have 13 second class chair car coaches.
Nevertheless, more than 1,000 second class seats are vacant on these two trains three hours after bookings opened. More than 70 seats on AC chair car are available for booking on train to Coimbatore and 128 seats on AC chair car are available for booking on train to Madurai on June 1. In contrast, tickets for Chennai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express are getting sold out minutes after booking open. Senthil Kumar, who wanted to book a ticket to Madurai for his brother, said, “I have dropped the idea as it is difficult to drop him at Villupuram and come back.”
Sources say the patronage for the trains is likely to be low as passengers from Chennai will not be able to reach Villupuram or Katpadi which is more than 100km away without public transport. Those who reach from Madurai and Coimbatore may not find it convenient to travel by road to Chennai because the trains reach late at night.
A senior railway official said, “Trains are not being operated from Chennai because the city is a red zone. We want to avoid passengers from Chennai and do not expect passengers to travel to Villupuram and Katpadi to board these trains because getting epass for boarding trains will be difficult.” Other four trains are Coimbatore – Mayiladuturai- Coimbatore Janshatabdi specials, Tiruchchirappalli – Nagercoil – Tiruchchirappalli superfast specials.