With the improved passenger comfort at Madurai Railway Junction, passengers, who are scheduled to board trains to their preferred destinations, now get an enhanced experience.
It was a matter of pride for Madurai Railway Junction, which has already earned the status of the second most beautiful station in India, as adjudged by the Ministry of Railways.
With a host of amenities in this air-conditioned passenger waiting lounge, which was developed by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Limited, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles catering, tourism and online ticketing operations, passengers feel relaxed and refreshed before boarding.
Adding new dimension to the junction, the brightly-lit lounge facing the first platform is equipped with amenities, including 50 sofas and four recliners for the use of passengers, who could also tap into free wi-fi. Moreover, it has been installed with digital television screen to entertain the passengers. Adding to the facility, sources said it has amenity to facilitate the Business Class passengers, locker facility and luggage rack. Besides, it has wash and change facility for the passengers.
Further, sources added that the junction has reinforced retiring rooms to benefit the passengers, who could have easy access to the Madurai-fame Meenakshi Amman temple, which is within a walking distance, and restaurants and entertainment venues too.
About 90 per cent of the booking for staying put in the retiring rooms, which have been classified into different categories like ‘AC deluxe double room’, AC dormitory (men and women) and AC family, were being made through IRCTC website.
Expressing what he experienced at the serene atmosphere in the lounge, a passenger K. Sakthivel Raja, who frequents Chennai from Madurai, said the cost was quite affordable as entry fee of Rs 60 is charged for two hours’ stay and Rs 50 for additional hour per passenger.
Since most of the rail passengers reserve travel tickets in advance, they often reach the boarding station just 20 or 30 minutes before departure of trains. Hence, hours of waiting would not be required for most of them, the passenger opined.
Divisional Railway Manager VR. Lenin, when contacted, told DT Next on Sunday that there’s a good response from the passengers.
The IRCTC has been offering high-quality standards of service to the passengers, who get access to the lounge.
He said offering quality service to the passengers is of paramount importance and cost is not a factor here. When asked whether similar amenities would be created in any other junction in the Southern Railway, the DRM said so far he had no idea whether or not such facility could be developed.
According to reliable sources from the IRCTC, the daily average entry to the Executive Lounge is about 150 to 200. Any rail passenger in possession of journey ticket would have access to the lounge. There was a great flow to the lounge during December last when many were on delightful vacation. Initially, North Indian food variety was prepared and served, but considering the growing demands, the South Indian delicacies were also cooked to cater to the needs of the passengers, the sources said.
Since Madurai remains the hub of tourism in the southern region, such passenger-friendly infrastructure would give a fillip to the tourism industry. Hence, the IRCTC sources said it has opened its avenues in rail-based tourism and operating various package tours including ‘Bharat Darshan’, Leave travel concession package, charter coach, customised tour, educational tour, pilgrimage tour and international tour as well. More importantly, the premium ‘Bharat Darshan’ tourist train operated by the IRCTC, South zone, has crossed 370 tours since its inception, the sources added.
As for M. Piramanayagam, Secretary, Tuticorin District Passengers Welfare Association, passenger amenities could be upgraded at Tirunelveli junction, the southernmost terminus of the division, which sees more than 40 trains moving on tracks. Next to Madurai, Tirunelveli was the fast developing with more facilities and infrastructural developments, in the southern region of Tamil Nadu, he said.
A rail commuter from Thoothukudi, JP. Joe Villavarayar, felt the need for enhancing passenger amenities at Vanchi Maniyachi station, which unlike Thoothukudi being district headquarters, sees 36 trains daily through.
The road leading to the Maniyachi station was too narrow and inadequate to handle traffic. With only a few trains available from Thoothukudi to Chennai, Maniyachi could be accessed easily if short route by road came into existence.
The Chennai-bound day trains touch Maniyachi, but passengers from Thoothukudi found it difficult to reach Maniyachi in time. He further recalled that the State government during the regime of late J. Jayalalithaa had announced short distance road from Thoothukudi to Maniyachi for the benefit of the rail passengers, but nothing seemed to progress, he said.
- The Executive Lounge has an entry fee of Rs 60 per passenger for two hours’ stay and Rs 50 for additional hour
- The brightly-lit lounge is equipped with 50 sofas and four recliners
- Free wi-fi facility and digital TV screen to entertain passengers
- Locker facility and luggage rack for Business Class passengers
- Wash and change facility for all passengers