CHENNAI: If you’re still planning to book train tickets from Chennai to Madurai, Coimbatore or Tiruchy to be with your loved ones on the weekend before Deepavali, you are too late. Sleeper class and AC tickets on important trains like Pandian, Rockfort, Pearl City and Cheran Express were snapped up within minutes of the advance reservation window opening on the IRCTC website and at counters on Thursday. The officially-declared holiday for Deepavali in Tamil Nadu is November 10, a Tuesday.
As is the trend, many would take that Monday off and spend the weekend with their families back in their native places. The most preferred travel would be the overnight train on November 6, a Friday. With effect from April 1 this year, the advance reservation period has been extended to 120 days. Hence, the booking for November 6 opened on July 9 at 8 am. When Express checked the ticket availability on Thursday around 11 am, sleeper class ticket availability on the Chennai-Madurai Pandian Express was Waiting List (WL) 400. Same was the case with Chennai-Coimbatore Cheran Express. For the Chennai-Tiruchirapalli Rockfort Express, it was WL-152. Even AC 3 tier tickets on these trains were completely booked and the waiting list was hovering around 50-100.
There are five daily trains after 8 pm for Chennai-Madurai and Chennai-Coimbatore, all of which have similar booking status currently. Southern Railway and IRCTC officials said about 80-90 per cent of these tickets were booked through online. “There was minimal rush at the station booking counters. The tickets got booked within five minutes,” said a booking clerk here.
Tickets to other destinations like Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata on November 6 were abundantly available. A few passengers who missed booking on Thursday said that the Railways should put out a public notice on social media. “Now we are at the mercy of omni bus operators,” said R Ramesh, a techie.