CHENNAI: The state government’s move to hike bus fares has helped the railways fill its coffers. A number of Chennai’s commuters have shown a marked preference for trains over buses, thanks to the huge difference in ticket fares between the two modes of transportation. Suburban Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) and Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) services are recording a substantial increase in patronage. Several railway stations in Chennai and its peripheries are reportedly experiencing double the amount of usual passenger traffic, sources said.
According to railway statistics, the number of commuters using EMU trains shot up by 56.93 per cent, after the bus fare revisions came into effect last Friday. A comparison between the annual average earnings per day through 2010-11 and the amount earned on November 21 (Monday) in 127 suburban stations falling under the Chennai Division of Southern Railways shows a 32 per cent increase in earnings. This is also reflected in the fact that ticket sales are up by 27.5 per cent, a senior railway official told City Express.
Along the Chennai Beach - Chengalpattu line, some stations such as Singaperumalkoil, Guduvancherry, Vandalur, Tambaram Sanatorium, Park Town, Fort and even Chengalpattu itself have seen double the number of passengers they would normally have received. On the MRTS line, the Mandaveli station has also seen a surge in commuters, while the Pattabiram Military Siding in the Chennai Central - Tiruvallur section has seen a sharp spike in passenger traffic.
“The train fare between Avadi and Moore Market Complex is Rs 7. But with this money, I can travel only to the next bus stop from Avadi in an MTC bus after the hike,” said T Ravi Kumar, President, All India Train and Bus Passengers Association.
On the other hand, railways personnel manning the booking office counters have to slog hard to meet the increased ticket sales. “Of late, it has become difficult to even take a minute’s break for attending nature’s calls, thanks to the serpentine queues,” an officer in a suburban railway ticket counter lamented.