In the backdrop of an announcement made by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the recent railway budget, the Madurai Railway Division has proposed introducing Antyodaya Express — a long distance, fully unreserved superfast train between Tirunelveli and Chennai Egmore or Madurai and Chennai Egmore.
According to official sources, the superfast train will have 14 to 16 unreserved second class (2S) coaches. A proposal in this regard has been sent to the Railway Board, they said.
Contrary to its earlier policy of operating only trains with sleeper berths in the night, the Railway Board has taken the decision to operate unreserved trains during night hours to meet high passenger demand in the Madurai-Chennai section, sources said. The unreserved train is expected to reduce hassles of those who plan their travel at the eleventh hour, they added.
A senior official from Madurai Railway Division told Express that last-minute travellers need not run from pillar to post to get their waitlisted ticket confirmed. “In fact, passengers who travel in buses can also opt to go by train if the proposal is cleared,” said the official.
A second class coach (2S) can accommodate 106 passengers, while the sleeper coaches have only 72 berths. At least 1,400 to 1,600 passengers will be able to travel by train, paying less than the ticket fare for government buses or omni buses, said the official.
The cost of a ticket from Madurai to Chennai by omni bus ranges from Rs 600 to Rs 750 in a non-AC semi sleeper bus, and between Rs 800 and Rs 1,200 in an AC semi-sleeper bus. The fares spike during festivals and weekends. But a ticket in Antyodaya Express will cost around Rs 165 to Rs 180 only, less than even an SETC ticket, which costs Rs 325, the official said.
The official added that the track was free from Madurai to Villupuram for a new train. Availability of track between Villupuram and Chennai is being studied. Based on that, the train timings could be finalised, he added.