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Nov 2, 2009

Southern Railway to introduce several special trains

With passenger traffic showing tremendous growth, Southern Railway has decided to introduce a large number of special trains and alsoexpand its network by completing before March next year 132 km of doubling works, 333 km of gauge conversion and 20 km of new lines.

"We will be introducing 162 Sabari special trains to meet the festival rush to Sabarimala. It will mark an 18 % increase over last year's 138 special trains. A large number of special trains for Pongal and New Year have also been planned for high-demand routes such as Tuticorin, Nagercoil, Coimbatore and others," said Union minister of state for railways, E Ahmed, after releasing the new railway timetable as well as a new suburban timetable in the city on Friday.

The new timetable has timings for trains under the jurisdiction of Southern Railway, South Central Railway, South Western Railway and Konkan Railway.According to Ahmed, the number of special trains had shot up from 912 during 2008-09 (January-September) to 1,020 this year (for the same period), an increase of 12 %. "The earnings from specials have also gone up from Rs 22 crore to Rs 30 crore," he said.

Ahmed pointed ut that said that the special trains were being run despite an increase in the number of trains allotted in the budget for the zone over the years. "As against the nine new trains introduced last year, 11 new trains have been included in the budget for this year, one of the highest in recent years. The number of train extensions have gone up, from four trains last year to six in current year."

The new timetable states that 28 trains, including the Chennai Central-Erode Yercaud Express, Chennai Central-Mangalore Express, Chennai Central-Coimbatore Express and Chennai Central-Vascodagama Express, will be speeded up by 10 minutes to 90 minutes from Sunday. However, a couple of trains such as the Nellai Express, Kacheguda-Chennai Express, Ananthapuri Express, Nagercoil-Chennai Express and Kovai Express will arrive later based on new timings from Sunday.

"To manage the growing passenger demand, Southern Railway will carry out a massive expansion of the unreserved ticketing system this year. Around 449 unreserved ticket counters will be opened this year, as against 70 last year; 100 new counters have already opened."Ahmed also said that railways were taking "standard measures to ensure security of passengers and trains" in the wake of the Naxalite attack on the Rajdhani Express.

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