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Airport-railway station link planned

Ajai Sreevatsan

CHENNAI: The Airports Authority of India has begun consultations with the Southern Railway on the facilities required to encourage air passengers to use public transport while coming and going from Chennai airport.

Though the Tirusulam railway station is very close to the airport, due to the lack of proper approach corridors and facilities, most passengers prefer to use private vehicles.

The proposal is to link the suburban station directly to the airport portico, either by extending the existing pedestrian subway up to the airport terminal or linking Tirusulam station with the proposed Airport Metro Rail station. Escalators and walkalators at appropriate locations are part of the plan. S.Anantharaman, DRM, Chennai Division, Southern Railway, said: “We have made a request to the airport authorities to consider integration. The suburban network caters for parts of the city which will not be touched by the Metro. A direct link from the suburban station to the airport portico will ensure a large section of the city's residents having a viable public transport option en route to the airport.”

According to him, the Railways is also considering the possibility of introducing luggage racks and special seating on at least one first class coach in EMUs that operate on the airport corridor.

Balchand Parayath, Chief Executive Officer of Chennai City Connect, which is offering technical consultancy, says that the airport is expected to attract 14 million passengers per year by 2016. The current usage is around six million passengers per year. “Parking is going to be a major problem. The only way to reduce the load on parking zones is to improve access to public transport.”

While studies have shown that parking space for 7,000 cars is required, even if the proposed multi-level parking project at the airport goes through, parking would be available for only 3,000 cars.

He says that even if just the airport employees start using public transport, parking requirement is likely to drop by 10 per cent. “When a passenger comes out of the airport terminal, he must be able to reach either the suburban or Metro station in relative comfort. Separate bays must also be provided for MTC buses to come into the airport and passenger information rooms must be available,” he adds. A senior AAI official said that the proposal was at a preliminary stage.

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