Arakkonam a hub for delayed trains, protests

In the last 10 days, the station has witnessed at least four stirs by railway passengers over late operation of trains.
Rail passengers blocking a Chennai-bound train at Arakkonam on Tuesday | Express
Rail passengers blocking a Chennai-bound train at Arakkonam on Tuesday | Express

CHENNAI: The shoddy yard upgrading works and lack of coordination among railway departments have put the train operation in disarray at the Arakkonam station, resulting in frequent protests by passengers over delayed operation of trains.

Rail passengers’ protests such as laying a siege to the Station Master’s office or picketing the railway tracks against train delay, are happening frequently at the Arakkonam station. Particularly, in the last 10 days, the station witnessed four protests for late operation of trains.

“After yard upgrading works, the Chennai-bound EMU fast local train, which starts at 7.10 am, is being operated from platform No. 1A.  The EMU train has regularly been detained by 30 minutes to receive the Kovai Express at platform No.1. Every day we go late to  offices,” said R Shankar, a regular commuter from Arakkonam.

For Arakkonam rail passengers and nearby villagers, train transportation remains one of the fastest and affordable modes of  transport to Chennai. After Tiruvallur district, Chennai gets second highest floating population from Vellore district.

The rail commuters are fuming that Jolarpettai Express, one of legendary trains of Vellore district, is getting delayed by 30 to 45 minutes every day and the EMU and other express trains also experience delay after the yard upgrading works in May.

As part of the work, the station signalling system was partly converted into Electronic Interlocking (EI) towards Katpadi direction, due to which trains from third and fourth lines of Tiruvallur-Arakkonam section cannot enter through the fourth and fifth platforms, said sources.

“EMUs from platform 3, 4 and 5 need to take right from left to enter into the slow lines, while the express trains from platform 1 and 2 need to move towards left to enter into the fast lines. The Railways should commence the Electronic Interlocking works towards Tiruvallur direction at the earliest, “ S Baskar, a member of Divisional Rail Users Consultative  Committee, Chennai.

On June 25, an MEMU fast local from Chennai was held up at Arakkonam home signal (entry
point) for 45 minutes. The infuriated passengers entered into an argument with the loco pilot and station manager, in which loco pilot  was allegedly roughed up. “It was a jam-packed train. Nearly 300 passengers travelled standing in the train for more than three hours. But, the  Railways allowed the passage of four express trains towards Chennai, but could not receive the EMU train,” added Baskar.

Naina Masilamani, president, Arakkonam Railway Passengers Welfare Association suggested that introducing a fast EMU train at 7.30 am to Chennai would reduce the demand for Jolarpettai Express. “Even after a delay of 20 minutes, passengers are  not getting intimated over the delay through announcement system,” he said.

June 22: Passengers laid a siege to the station master’s office over the delay of EMU trains.
June 25: Loco pilot was allegedly roughed up after MEMU train was detained for 45 minutes. Rail commuters staged a protest in front of the station master’s office
June 30: Rail passengers held up express trains bound for Katpadi and Chennai over the late arrival of Arkakonam-Jolarpettai Express
July 3: Four trains, including Thiruvananthapuram mail and Brindavan Express, were detained for two hours after the 7.10 am local train was delayed for 30 minutes

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