According to the October 20 circular, passenger trains operated between Madurai and Villupuram, Mayiladuthurai and Dindigul, Erode and Tirunelveli, Tiruchy and Rameswaram, Puducherry and Tirupati, Villupuram and Tirupati, Salem and Arakkonam and Salem-Yaswantpur are among those being converted.
Criticising the decision, K Baskar, former DRUCC member of Chennai Railway Division, pointed out how the Jolarpet- Salem train will stop only at five stations from now on. “What will become of the people in the villages en route? First they extended the Salem-Katpadi passenger to Arakkonam. Now, they have cited the distance and converted it into an express,” he said. Alleging that conversion was done by clubbing two passenger trains in some places, Baskar said it would affect villagers trying to board regular express trains. “Now, they must take buses or personal transport to reach major stations to board express trains.” DREU president R Elangovan said passengers would have to pay 1.5 to 1.8 times more. He added that season passes for students, and poor and lower income group travellers would also become useless as the trains would not stop at many of the smaller stations. “In one stroke, they have done away with subsidised travel like season passes. The passes will remain on paper, but people won’t buy them as trains will not stop at their stations.”