Saturday, July 26, 2008

Here comes the train

Chennai's suburban rail network has always been a watered down version of its Mumbai counterpart. The latter carries almost half of the city's population every day; even with Chennai's significantly lower population, less than a third of them use the suburban trains. For a long while, Bombay and Madras were the only 2 cities in the country that could boast of a vibrant suburban train system. Delhi's was largely unused and Calcutta clung on to its trams.

Then Calcutta went for its Metro and Delhi bested it with a world-class system of their own. Chennai's trains continued to run; a new line was added, the older ones were upgraded - all incremental changes, nothing that was front-page stuff. The old lines: Central - Tiruttani, Central - Gummidipoondi/Sulurpet, Beach - Tambaram, were among the oldest tracks laid down in the country. While the first two run out to the northern suburbs, the Beach-Tambaram line goes through the city for the most part and connects up its southern reaches.

Here's one of those trains coming up to Beach: it has just left the Park station and now has to turn left, to skirt the western edge of the Fort St. George complex, heading towards the Fort station, its last halt before the Beach terminus. The bit of water at the bottom left of the picture is a part of the Cooum river; looking at its shrivelled and polluted state today, it is hard to believe that this was once a natural moat for Fort St. George!



6 comments:

Hilda said...

Sigh, our train system in the Philippines is so outmoded too. An upgrading project is currently in the works with a Chinese company but it's controversial because of rumors of corruption — as usual. I just hope it actually gets done AND gets used (our new airport stood unused for several years!).

Within Metro Manila, we finally have a pretty decent electric train system. There's just not enough cars — they're always too full — but still, better than none at all, especially with the cost of fuel. Still needs a lot of expansion though.

Ravindran said...

In chennai the passenger burden is almost equally shared by trains and road transports. There are some places which can be accessed either by train or bus. A person who wants to go from kodambakkam or mambalam to Central will choose only train travel.There are some destinations which are easier to reach by bus and there are places which have only one form of transport.

Sometimes I don't, sometimes I do said...

>> Hilda>> Wish you luck with your new trains - the MRTS in Chennai is slowly becoming popular, after about 8 years of regular operations...

>> Ravindran>> That's true - there are so many places that do not have rail connectivity. But it was news to me that Anna Nagar is on the suburban rail network - did you know that?!

Ravindran said...

The plan to connect Anna nagar by rail was mooted long back . Why they didnt follow it up I dont know. They can connect it to beach via egmore and park. THat will be useful.
Before an international trade fair was held near the present anna nagar it was a deserted land. I still remember that

sreesnake said...

Seriously, only yesterday I was wondering why you hadn't given print space for the suburban rail system and presto!!Great!! I have been using this since 1984 and out of it, I am hopelessly lost. Any day, I would prefer the train to our bus system. I was in MD when the news of the last run of the meter gauge was in rediffmail. How I wished I was in Chennai at that time to be part of it!! Let them do a real whatever upgrade to a metro-like system...just leave my 'electric trains' alone!!

Sometimes I don't, sometimes I do said...

>> Ravindran>> Anna Nagar is now connected to Central through Villivakkam!

>> Sree>> Oh, I'm sure the Metro can't replace these trains - not in our lifetime, anyway!