CHENNAI: With the Indian Railways’ privatisation move going forward, a dedicated coach maintenance depot is all set to come up in Chennai, for private trains to run in the Chennai cluster. Though the onus of setting up the depot falls on the concessionaire (the private company), the zonal railways is required to provide the required space for the depot, said a recent directive from the Railway Board.
“Either a green field space for new depot, or space in the existing depots has to be provided, which can be upgraded by the concessionaire. Railways also has to ensure rail and road connectivity to these depots,” said A Madhukumar Reddy, Principal Executive Director (Coaching), Railways Board, in the directive issued to Southern Railways.
The latter has also been asked to submit a report on this by August 7. The directive adds that a two-hour slot be allotted for private trains in the existing washing lines of depots, for a wash-up and inspection after every 7,000 km of running. These coaches will be cleaned at Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchy, Secunderabad and Kochuveli.
“The washing line needs to be electrified so that trains can be placed and removed without a shunting engine. In this regard, zonal railways are advised to identify suitable originating and termination stations, and reserve slots according to timings of these trains,” Reddy added. A total of 14 private trains have been proposed to be operated in the State, of which 12 will be under the Chennai cluster. This includes daily trains in Madurai, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli routes. Earlier this month, a request for qualification application was also invited from interested parties to operate 151 private trains in 109 routes.
A tentative schedule of proposed routes have also been released by the board, and the concessionaire will be allowed to fix the fare for a period of 35 years. Southern Railway officials said, a few proposals to utilise vacant lands here have already been sent for the board’s approval. Currently, trains operated from Chennai Central are maintained at the Basin Bridge depot, and those run from Egmore are maintained at Gopalsamy Nagar depot at Chetpet. “Space at Salt Cotaurs has been proposed to set up Chennai’s fourth terminal. The process of identifying space for private train depots is on,” said an official. Similar depots will be set up at 11 more places, including Mumbai, Delhi, Howrah, Chandigarh, Patna, Secunderabad, and Bengaluru.