Stop CMRL (Chennai Metro Rail Limited) takeover of suburban MRTS

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Hello all,

          Many of you would have read about the plans ( , ) to have the CMRL takeover the suburban MRTS in Madras over the last year or so. 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:

  1. Journey - Beach – Tiruvanmiyur (15km) - Current Fare - Rs5, New Fare - Rs50
  2. Journey - Avadi – Kasturibai Nagar (35km) - Current Fare - Rs10, New Fare - Rs 50 (Rs10 (Avadi-Moore Market) + Rs40 (Park Town – Kasturibai Nagar) )
  3. 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 ridership of the metro is merely around 25,000 per day for its two lines having a network length of nearly 27km, despite connecting both the Koyambedu bus stand and the airport. The MRTS has a ridership of a little more than 100,000 per day, four times that of the metro! Instead of converting suburban rail to metro the Central and State Governments should concentrate on building new suburban lines like extending the suburban MRTS to Mahabalipuram which was proposed way back in 2008 in the Second Master plan for the city ( ).

If the sole purpose of converting the suburban rail to metro is to provide air-conditioned transportation to those who demand it, then 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, 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!

P.S. For those interested in additional reading about why the suburban rail is far better than metro rail, an entire series comparing these systems was written a few months ago.

Part I - deals with ridership and financial statistics

Part II - deals with construction costs

Part III - deals with fares


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