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Lack of special trains hits travellers

The commuters of the western districts have resented the absence of special trains for clearing the Christmas and New Year rush.

A cross-section of the commuters has said that the failure of the Southern Railway (SR) to operate special trains in Salem division has posed a lot of difficulty to the common people.

It is usual for the Southern Railway to operate special trains during the festival and holiday seasons, which proved immensely beneficial in clearing the rush.

The travelling public were thoroughly disappointed when no announcement was made on the introduction of special trains for clearing the Christmas and New Year rush. The only special service announced by the Southern Railway was the train between Chengalpattu and Coimbatore via Tiruchi and Karur. The Railways has announced operation of 16 services from Sunday (December 24) to January 31 next year. Many trains are already being operated in the Chennai Egmore - Tiruchi section and again in the Tiruchi – Coimbatore section. The introduction of a special train via Tiruchi will be of not much use to the commuters, many argue.

The Southern Railway would have done well by operating this special train from Chengalpattu to Coimbatore via Vridhachalam, Attur and Salem. At present, only the overnight Salem – Chennai Egmore train is operated in this route and the people have been pleading for more trains on this section to meet the ever-increasing demand from all sections of the society.

People complain that they were as usual expecting last-minute announcement on the introduction of special trains. With Railways maintaining stoic silence, they had to opt for other modes of transport such as buses.

“We were trying for tatkal tickets. But, they were sold out within a few minutes of the opening of the counters and website,” says E. Lakshman, a regular traveller. Travelling in the unreserved compartments even in the day trains is totally impossible these days, he says.

K. Murugan, member, Mohanur Rail Commuters Welfare Association, complains that the Railways did not evince much interest in operating special trains from and to the different destinations in the Salem division during the Deepavali season, too. The Railways should take steps for operating special trains during all the festival seasons in future, he said. The announcements on the special trains should be made much in advance, Mr. Murugan said.

In the absence of special trains to clear the Christmas and New Year holiday rush, people have to solely depend on the buses. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and the State Express Transport Corporation have already introduced special buses from different parts of the western districts to Chennai, Bengaluru, Nagercoil, Madurai, Tirunelveli etc. Private operators, too, have introduced additional services. As such, the bus stands in Salem city, Namakkal and other rural towns have been crowded with people since Friday evening.

With the heavy flow of vehicles, all the national highways across the State have been posing a busy look round-the-clock.

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