The Chennai Metro Rail is ambitiously hoping to increase the frequency of its trains to cater better to its patrons. Trials are being done to bring down the train frequency to once every 2.5 minutes in an attempt to increase ridership. If trials prove successful, present frequency from 5 minutes will be halved.
CMRL currently enjoys over one lakh commuters during weekdays and averages just over 95,000 during the weekends. Authorities hope that by the time ridership reaches 4 lakh, the new, improved frequency of trains will be in place.
At present, on the Washermenpet - Airport route (Blue line) trains ply once in every five minutes during peak hours (8.00 am to 11.00 am and 5 pm to 8.00 pm) and one every seven minutes during non-peak hours (6 am to 8.00 am, 12.00 pm to 5.00 pm and 8.00 pm to 10 pm). On the Chennai Central to Airport route (Inter-connecting corridor) and the Chennai Central to St Thomas route (Green line) the trains ply at a frequency of 10 minutes during peak hours and 14 minutes during non-peak hours.
Incidentally, the system has been designed for 2.5 minutes and since CMRL is yet to tap into its full potential, preparations are underway to increase its efficiency. However, according to TOI, CMRL does not have enough trains to run every 2.5 minutes. Currently, 35 trains are operated during peak hours and 25 during non-peak hours.
The Hindu notes that CMRL conducted its first trial run on August 10 followed by which another trial run was to take place the following week. ‚ÄúThere will be about 35-40 trains pressed into service during the run. We will also try and ensure that there are no technical glitches in signalling and other systems,‚ÄĚ the official had said.
CMRL officials also point out that increasing frequency is a big challenge since it requires syncing of all critical systems with minimal failure. Point machines, a device used for trains switching tracks should be fail-proof.
CMRL is also looking to reduce the time taken to bring out the trains from the dept to the main lines. While each corridor is supposed to have one depot each, currently two corridors are operated with one depot. The second depot at Washermenpet is still under construction.