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Travellers unhappy with revised schedule for Rockfort Express

Southern Railway’s decision to revise the schedule of the hugely popular Rockfort Express, especially the Chennai-Tiruchi Rockfort Express (Train 12653), has drawn flak from city residents.

As per the new schedule, which would come into effect from November 1, the train’s departure time from Chennai Egmore has been pushed to 11.30 p.m. It will reach Tiruchi at 5.15 a.m. Currently, the train leaves Chennai at 10.30 p.m. and arrives here at 4.30 a.m.

Under the revised scheduled, the travel time of the train has been brought down to five hours and forty-five minutes instead of six hours.

“This is not a felt need and no one asked for speeding up as this is an overnight train. Although technically the train meets the super fast norm of 55 km per hour, it hardly offers any benefit to the passengers. Earlier, it was doing 53 km per hour,” says S. Pushpavanam, Secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu.

Besides, with the super fast surcharge of ₹45 on AC classes and ₹30 on sleeper class, the passenger has to spend more and has to shell out taxi or auto fare to reach the railway station in unearthly hours, he contends.

Echoing similar sentiments, M. Sekaran, president, Air, Rail and Road Travellers Federation, said: “The move will adversely affect the interest of the passengers. In Chennai, public transport system is very limited after 10 p.m. and travellers will find it difficult to reach the railway station to board the train. Beside, a large numbers of passengers board the train at Mambalam and Tambaram. Under the new schedule, passengers would have to board the train at Mambalam at 11.45 p.m. and at midnight at Tambaram. This being a night train operated for the convenience of passengers, the change will only come as a nightmare.”

No consultation

The Railways has not bothered to consult passengers or service associations before deciding to change the time, he regretted and appealed to the Chairman, Railway Board to consider the genuine grievance of the passengers.

The revised schedule will badly affect the passengers as they will be able to sleep less than five hours on what is supposed to be an overnight train, said H. Ghouse Baig, a consumer activist.

Mr. Pushpavanam too felt that trains should be run for the convenience of passengers.

“Passengers who have to pay much more for disturbed sleep are not likely to bless the Railways. I am afraid the Railways are working overtime to get a bad name for the present government as this move will affect patronage, which it can hardly afford,” observes Mr. Pushpavanam.

He demanded that the railway retain the trains as express service, forego the super fast surcharge and earn the goodwill of passengers.


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