One of the criticisms of the MRTS in its earlier route from Beach to Tirumailai was that it was more expensive than the bus. It also did not connect to residential suburbs in the South conveniently.
As we have noted, those things have changed. Moreover, the MRTS provides for inexpensive travel if you opt for a monthly or quarterly season ticket. I took a monthly pass, second class, between Chintadripet and Tambaram for the equivalent of a couple of medium-distance autorickshaw rides: Rs. 150, plus one rupee for an identity card, for which you must produce a passport size photograph (the ID in its intact form is valid for seven years).
Here is the entire chart of fares for the season tickets from Chintadripet. Sadly, you cannot buy a pass at Chintadripet for both sectors : Velachery – Beach and Beach – Tambaram. Apparently, the computerisation of Indian Railways has treated the suburban and MRTS as a poor cousin.
The time-table for the Beach – Velachery MRTS service is here.
The media has been giving intermittent coverage to MRTS operations, but we must wait for a week or fortnight before really closing in with a strong opinion. At the moment, the Southern Railway Administration is doing less to promote the MRTS than the word-of-mouth publicity of its considerable number of passengers. Many stations, such as Chintadripet do not even have an updated chart of service timings.
The clock at Fort Station platform remains frozen where it was a long time ago, at four something, completely unmoved by all the change, and not nudged into motion by the administration either.