Four years on, railway restores 140 pairs of express trains to passenger category

Minimum fare reduced from Rs 30 to Rs 10 in March without notification will now be permanent
Image used for representational purpose only
Image used for representational purpose only(Photo | EPS)

CHENNAI: Nearly four years after being converted into express trains, the Southern Railway has decided to revert 140 pairs of trains to ordinary second-class passenger category. The decision, slated to take effect from July 1, is expected to bring relief to passengers, particularly daily commuters outside Chennai.

Consequently, the minimum fare for these trains, reduced from Rs 30 to Rs 10 in March this year without official notification 50 days before the polling of the first phase of the Lok Sabha election, will now be permanent. The passenger trains running in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry were converted into express trains in March 2020 after the Covid-19 lockdown.

Marking the changes, the railways renumbered the express special trains, applying the criteria used for numbering regular second class passenger trains, and duly notified the changes. However, passenger trains running for more than 200 km, such as Tirupati-Puducherry, Villupuram-Madurai, and others which were converted into express trains, will continue to operate as express trains as usual.

After the Covid-19 lockdown, all passenger trains were converted into express trains, resulting in a 50% increase in fare. Consequently, passengers had to pay a minimum of Rs 35 to Rs 45 per ticket instead of Rs 10.

The railways decision will ensure the ticket fare remains low in all express specials permanently, including in routes like Chennai Egmore - Puducherry, Chennai Beach - Tiruvannamalai MEMU, Katpadi - Salem, Villupuram - Tiruchy, Coimbatore - Pollachi, Mannargudi-Mayiladuthurai, Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur, Nagapattinam-Velankanni and others.

A Giri, former member of the Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC), Trichy division, said, “The railways’ decision now provides clarity, as the downgrade from express to passenger class weeks before the election was not a temporary measure. The railways should restore all other facilities to passengers that were available before the Covid-19 lockdown.”

R Pandiaraja, a ZRUCC member from the Southern Railway, remarked, “The railways should refrain from providing verbal directives regarding policy decisions, as these have led to huge confusion among staff and passengers.”

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