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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Chennai Beach station to be bifurcated as MRTS-Metro merger likely by Dec 2018

C Shivakumar and Venkatesan Parthasarathy

The Chennai Beach suburban railway station is likely to be transformed into another major metro rail hub, once the Mass Rapid Transit System gets integrated with Chennai Metro by December 2018.  

Beach, one of the oldest stations in the suburban rail network, will be bifurcated after the merger, for which assets of Southern Railway and MRTS are being identified to be handed over, top Railway and state government officials said.

Sources told Express that the initial plan was to develop Fort suburban station as the terminus for MRTS services. However, that idea was dropped as Fort did not have adequate land to develop the required infrastructure.

Furthermore, Beach station, which came into existence in 1931, has the land required for developing it as the commercial and operational terminus for MRTS.      

This came up during the recent discussion on the proposal which was mooted at the high level meeting of state government with Chennai Metro Rail and Southern Railway officials.

The meeting, which was held to discuss the inception report submitted by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Balaji Railroad Systems Limited (BARSYL), leading Railways and Metro Rail Consulting Engineers, deliberated on finer aspects of the bifurcation of Chennai Beach.   

It is understood that the consultants are working out a plan for a transitional period once the merger takes place. That plan is likely to be submitted by January next year.

“Resources such as rolling stock, signal as well as employees will be retained for some period,” railway sources said.     

It is learnt that the fare structure of MRTS
is likely to undergo a change and the state is looking at a common ticketing with Metro rail.

It is also proposed to explore the possibility of having additional parking space at the vacant land available close to Rajaji Salai near Parry’s Corner junction.

Railway officials said they have agreed to lease out their land to CMRL for their parking needs although the design and capacity is yet to be ascertained.  

The inception report focussed on clearly demarcating the physical assets, such as tracks, platform and yard boundary.

Sources indicated that there won’t be any gauge conversion in the immediate future as it would result in cost escalation for CMRL.   

The consultants have been asked to study the sensitivity of traffic on the MRTS section. Sources indicated that Chennai Metro have to build a separate rail track from Beach to Fort, as the existing line will be taken over by Southern Railways.

The proposed track would be built on the eastern side of the existing down line of MRTS. However, this would require land acquisition from the defence establishment near Fort and technical feasibility of the proposal has to be studied.   

How the merger will work out
1. The assets of MRTS and Southern Railway will be audited
2.  Few assets will have to be shared for a limited period as the portion of line from Park Town station to Beach would be common
3. Chennai Beach station to be bifurcated and converted into a commercial and operational terminus of MRTS
4. Vacant space available towards Rajaji Salai near Parry’s Corner junction to be made as parking slot for MRTS
5. Fare of MRTS is likely to be revised and plans are on for common ticketing with Chennai metro
6. Gauge conversion has been ruled out for the immediate future
7. Technical feasibility for a separate MRTS line from Chennai Beach to Park Town is to be studied   

Operational cost per day (estimated): Rs 18 lakh per day

Potential Capacity: 425,000 passengers a day

Daily Ridership: Around one lakh

First MRTS route operated from Beach up to Chepauk in 1995

Extended to Thirumyilai station in Mylapore in 1997

MRTS services extended from Thirumayilai to Thiruvanmiyur in June 2004

MRTS extended from Thiruvanmiyur to Velachery in 2007

Extension from Velachery to St Thomas currently underway
Chennai Beach factfile:
1. The first electrically operated rail service in Chennai was started from Chennai Beach on 2 April 1931 to Tambaram.
2. Around 400 trips are operated from Chennai Beach station every day.
3. This includes close to 250 services in the Beach–Tambaram–Chengalpattu sector and 134 services in the Beach—Velachery MRTS sector, in addition to services to Gummidipoondi and Ennore in the north and Avadi, Pattabiram, Thiruvallur, and Thiruthani in the west, and the less-frequent services to Chennai Central.
4. The station sees close to 100,000 passengers every day using the city's suburban rail network,with more than 40,000 commuters buying tickets from the station every day

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