Tuesday, April 30, 2019

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT THE HINDU CHENNAI , APRIL 29, 2019 



Urgent engineering work had to be taken up near Arakkonam, say officials


Southern Railway cancelled several trains and short-terminated five on Sunday to take up engineering work near Arakkonam, causing severe hardship to thousands of passengers.

The proposed engineering work at the diamond crossing at Melpakkam railway yard, located near the Arakkonam railway station, which was announced late on Friday, resulted in the cancellation of seven trains, including the Arakkonam-Jolarpettai Express (train no. 16085), Vellore-Arakkonam passenger and KSR Bengaluru-Arakkonam passenger trains on Sunday.

The maintenance work also led to the Railways Department terminating five trains, bound for Chennai , at Katpadi and Jolarpettai railway stations. The cancellation and short-termination of train services in the midst of the summer holidays made it difficult for passengers to reach the city.

According to railway officials, the line block at the diamond crossing at Melpakkam near Arakkonam had to be taken up immediately. The wooden sleepers had to be replaced with concrete ones at the crossing not only for the safety of the trains, but also for increasing their speed, said a senior official. Such maintenance work could not be taken up on weekdays, as it would have led to cancellation of several long-distance trains, he added.


The maintenance work was to be taken up during the remodelling work at the Arakkonam railway station executed in May last year, but had to be postponed, officials said.
Lack of alternative

Being a Sunday, railway officials said they could not take steps to offer alternative public transport from Arakkonam to the city, leaving commuters in the lurch to find their own modes of transport.

Some passengers who had booked tickets long ago for the vacation season were left fuming. Train passengers also complained that there was lack of communication about train cancellations, which is normally sent to passengers through SMS or social media.

R. Hari, a resident of Avadi, said the short-termination of the Lalbagh Express from Bengaluru at Katpadi junction resulted in him spending more than ₹1,000 to reach his house. He said the failure of the railway administration to request public bus facility from the State government only showed the bad treatment extended to commuters.

Naina Masilamani, member, Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee, pointed out that the Railways could have arranged alternative public transport service to ease the hardship of the commuters. The engineering work was important from the safety point of view, he said.

“Unlike a few years ago when derailments happened regularly between the Arakkonam and the Chennai Central section, incidents had been brought down now with regular maintenance work,” he added.

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