In the railway’s plan to allow private operators to run trains on particular cluster of routes, Tambaram features as an important terminal station, upstaging the landlocked and saturated Dr MGR Central and Chennai Egmore station.
The draft documents put out in public domain show that in the indicative cluster for trains from Chennai, it has been proposed to run a train from Tambaram to Madurai, another from Tambaram to Bengaluru’s third terminal, a train from Tirunelveli to Tambaram, another train from Tambaram to Tiruchirapalli and another service from Kanyakumari to Tambaram.
Southern Railway sources said that the proposal has undergone further iterations and that the Tambaram to Bengaluru train has been dropped from the Chennai cluster. Indian Railways has divided the 100 paths or railway routes where-in private players may be allowed to run trains into 10-12 clusters entailing 150 trains and an indicative investment of 22,500 crore. Chennai is one of them, according to the draft paper.
The operators would have rights to collect market-linked fares and ability to provide value added and differentiated customer service. The private players could also bring in their own trainsets. Highly placed sources in Southern Railway confirmed that Tambaram is being looked at seriously as a terminal for all south bound trains from now on.
“In cities like Mumbai, the terminal stations are located away from the city. Passengers travel to the terminals through EMU and catch the trains,” a source said. The line from Tambaram to Madurai is completely doubled and electrified with doubling up to Kanyakumari also in the pipeline. Tambaram has two pit lines and would get a few more.
If fast trains are started from Tambaram, travel to Madurai and Tiruchirapalli would come down with a possibility of running fast shuttle services by Railways, say sources. Currently the fastest train, Tejas Express, takes four hours from Egmore to Tiruchirapalli. From Tambaram, this would translate into a time of around three to 3.5 hours.
Also many from southern districts live in Tambaram-Chengalpet belt and Tambaram would be easier for them to reach, say officials. However, officials are wary of protests from residents in North Chennai who travel to southern districts. Passenger associations have been pushing for extending trains terminating at Egmore up to Royapuram, say officials.