CHENNAI: If the hike in bus fares are bothering you and you want to go to Tirunelveli, soon you will have the option of a brand-new train instead. Called the Antyodaya Express with plush interiors, it’s a fully unreserved train between Chennai and Tirunelveli.
Recently, the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Perambur, had handed over the first rake of the Antyodaya coaches, comprising 20 fully unreserved general class (second sitting) coaches and three power cars to the Southern Railway. According to official sources, the Antyodaya Express will have a minimum of 16 coaches and the train can carry up to 2,000 passengers in a single journey. The ticket fare in these trains will be on a par with the fares of second class superfast trains which already operate in the section.
It has been learnt that initially, the Antyodaya Express is likely to be operated as a bi-weekly express, with a single rake. The Southern Railway is expected to make an official announcement soon.
K N Babu, secretary to general manager of ICF, said interiors and exteriors of the coaches have been wrapped with vinyl sheets to ensure the train sports a new look. “Every coach will have drinking water vending machines to ensure that passengers are provided potable water during the journey. Besides, a fire extinguisher is available on the coaches,” he said.
Explaining the features of the Antyodaya Express, a fully unreserved train between Chennai and Tirunelveli to be launched soon, K N Babu, secretary to general manager of ICF, said that unlike conventional general coaches where passengers can’t move between unreserved compartments, Antyodaya coaches are connected by vestibules.
To cater more to unreserved passengers in highly congested routes, the Indian Railways introduced the first Antyodaya Express in March 2017 between Howrah and Ernakulam. Another Antyodaya Express is currently operating between Chennai and Santragachi.
In the time table for 2018-19, the Southern Railway had announced that two Antyodaya Express trains would run in the Tambaram-Tirunleveli and Tambaram-Sengottai sections.
Officials said they are yet to finalise the route where the new coaches would be used first, but hoped that most likely the rolling stock would be for the Tambaram-Tirunelveli section since the route has a high demand throughout the year. “We are awaiting approval from the Railway Board to finalise the route and frequency of trains,” said an official.
According to the time table released on November 1 last year, it has been proposed that the Tambaram-Tirunelveli Antyodaya Express would start at 12.30 am at Tambaram and reach Tirunelveli at 3.30 pm the next day passing through Villupuram, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruchchirappalli and Madurai. On return leg, it would leave Tirunelveli at 9.45 pm and reach Tambaram at 5.30 pm next day.