In the absence of a reservation counter at the airport, passengers are forced to use the railway reservation counters at Tambaram (8 kilometers away) or St Thomas Mount (6 kilometers away), delaying their travel plans.
According to the Chennai Airport officials, around 38,000 to 40,000 passengers use the airport everyday. At least 10% of these passengers are in transit, while another 35% take cars or other ground transportation service to reach their destination.
“The remaining 55% passengers, mostly from the lower income group, take trains to reach their hometowns in Andhra, Kerala or even to southern districts of TN,” an airport official said.
For the convenience of these passengers, a railway reservation counter was opened inside the airport in 2000 at the old terminal and was functional till 2013 -- when the new terminals replaced the old. In addition, another 1,500 airport staff and additional 1,000 employees of various airlines also used these facilities to book their train tickets.
“While both air passengers and others were allowed to book their train tickets in the counter, preference was given to air passengers to avoid hassle for the weary travellers. However, there was no space allocated for the reservation counters in the new terminal. While there was a plan to shift the counter to the new terminal, it never took off,” another official said.
In the absence of these counters, most passengers who arrive on the evening flights are forced to spend an extra day to take trains to their destination. They have to exit the airport and travel to either St Thomas Mount or Tambaram to book their tickets along with their baggage.
“With the opening of the Airport-Central metro connectivity, the presence of a railway counter would greatly help in reducing travel time,” said Veeraraghavan from Kolathur, a frequent flier.
Speaking to DTNext, the Chennai airport director G Chandramouli said while there was no such proposal for a reservation counter in the new terminal as most passengers booked their tickets online, they were planning to add it soon. “We will coordinate with the railway officials and take efforts to allocate space for a new reservation counter,” he said.