Stop CMRL (Chennai Metro Rail Limited) takeover of suburban MRTS
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Many of you would have read about the plans (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/makeover-of-mrts-on-the-cards/article22401635.ece , http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2018/jan/03/chennai-with-metro-coaches-and-modern-stations-mrts-set-for-big-upgrade-1743035.html ) to have the CMRL takeover the suburban MRTS in Madras. The proposed merger is a disaster for the users of this line for two major reasons. First, the Southern Railway currently does a wonderful job of running many cross-sectorial services from Velachery to places like Gummudipoondi and Arakkonam which benefit several thousands of passengers every single day. Converting the suburban MRTS to metro will automatically discontinue these services since the trains will be different and the tracks will not be shared either. If the journey is broken up into two, rest assured the time loss to commuters would be of the order of 20-30 minutes to change from one line to another. Second, adding insult to injury, the metro fares are typically several times more expensive than the suburban rail. Below are a few examples of how fares will be affected as per current metro and suburban fare structure:
- Journey - Beach – Tiruvanmiyur (15km) - Current Fare - Rs5, New Fare - Rs50
- Journey - Avadi – Kasturibai Nagar (35km) - Current Fare - Rs10, New Fare - Rs 50 (Rs10 (Avadi-Moore Market) + Rs40 (Park Town – Kasturibai Nagar) )
- Journey - Mandaveli - Taramani (7km) - Current Fare - Rs5, New Fare - Rs40
There is no doubt that the two things combined will hurt people across the board. Additionally, there is clear evidence that people do not want to use the metro. The metro system's ridership at about 90,000 people per day (https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/metro-users-jump-to-90000/article26324880.ece) is quite poor considering it has two complete lines and connects spots with the highest moving population in the city (Central railway station, Egmore railway station, Airport and Koyambedu bus stand). The MRTS line, though incomplete (the Velachery-St.Thomas Mount stretch is yet to be completed) still has a ridership (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/mrts-cuts-ride-time-from-beach-to-velachery/articleshow/59745510.cms) which is more than the metro with a little more than 100,000 per day.
Additionally, another proposal for a railway line from Perungudi to Cuddalore is being shifted from Perungudi to Chengalpet (the two stations are 50km apart) with no reason other than this conversion to metro being given (http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2018/jul/13/perungudi-cuddalore-link-may-shift-to-chengalpet-post-metro-mrts-merger-1842638.html) As a result, people who want to reach the city (Madras) now have to travel at least an additional hour as they have to take an additional suburban train(s)/bus.
It appears therefore, that the sole purpose of converting the suburban rail to metro is to provide air-conditioned transportation to those who demand it. For achieving this, surely converting one coach of the EMU to an air-conditioned compartment with ticket prices like the metro will suffice. After conversion, if the demand is so high, then more such coaches can be added. However, to people who simply cannot afford the luxury or do not want it (they are many many people who like the open windows and the breeze), basic transportation is a must.
Please sign this petition to urge the Railway Minister to drop this completely ill-advised move of converting suburban rail to metro and causing further disruption and hardship for people. Do sign and share even if you are not a user of this line, for all we know, the model may be replicated across the country. Public transport needs to remain a service!
*Petition edited on 03 March, 2019 with updated metro ridership statistics.
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