CHENNAI: Since the State government has permitted transport between Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, commuters say the general public should be allowed to travel on suburban trains again. Since May 17, only government employees and people providing ‘essential services’ have been allowed on these trains.
This has forced residents of Tiruvallur, Tiruttani, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram to find alternate ways to reach their offices in Chennai. On Monday, bus services between Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts were resumed with 50 per cent of the seating capacity.
But without access to suburban trains, thousands of workers, including electricians, plumbers, painters and construction labourers, are struggling to travel between Chennai and Tiruttani every day, said S Srinisavan, a commuter from Tiruvallur. “The government has allowed many private companies to function, and the Southern Railways’ decision not to let these employees use the suburban trains is unacceptable,” he asserted.
Another commuter, G Narayanan, from Chengalpattu, said the Railways’ reluctance to allow the general public on suburban trains results in overcrowding of buses. “Almost all buses from Tambaram, Chengalpattu, Perungalathur and Vandalur are crowded. The Covid-19 protocol is violated, and commuters have to risk their lives to travel to work as many employers have asked their staff to return to offices,” he added.
Southern Railway officials said they increased the number of suburban services from 379 to 470 from Monday. “Since all government departments are allowed to function, we have added more services. A decision on allowing the general public on trains will be taken soon,” said a Railway official.