Chennai Central, erstwhile Madras Central, is the main railway terminus in the city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras. It lies adjacent to the current headquarters of the Southern Railway, as well as the Ripon Building, and is one of the most important railway hubs in South India. The other major railway hub stations in the city are Chennai Egmore and Tambaram. Chennai Central connects the city to New Delhi and prominent cities of India such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna, Varanasi, Thiruvananthapuram, and so forth. The 142-year-old building of the railway station, one of the most prominent landmarks of Chennai, was designed by architect George Harding. Along with Chennai Beach, the station is also a main hub for the Chennai Suburban Railway system
Chennai Central serves as a symbolic landmark for people in South India as this station served as the main gateway for all people who travelled to South India during the British times. About 350,000 passengers use the terminus every day. Chennai Egmore, Coimbatore Junction and Chennai Central are the most profitable stations of Southern Railways.As. per a report published in 2007 by the Indian Railways, Chennai Central and Secunderabad were awarded 183 points out of a maximum of 300 for cleanliness, the highest in the country.
Chennai is the sixth most populous city of India and it is the fastest developing cities in the world. The city is located in Tamil Nadu state. It provides information technology-enabled services throughout India. The city is very well developed and people are well educated. Corporation of Chennai governs the city. It is the main centre for art and culture and dance shows of this place is famous in India.
Chennai Central is the main railway station which serves the city, earlier it was called Madras Central. This station is the major rail head in Southern part of India and it plays an important role for the Chennai Suburban Railway system because it is their main hub. Headquarters of the Southern Railway Zone of the Indian Railways is in Chennai. Few other stations such as Chennai Egmore and Tambram also serve to people of this city
There are many important trains which run through Chennai Central and connect it to other major cities of India such as Lucknow, New Delhi, Bhopal, Jaipur, Patna, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata etc.
Marking the initial days of the railways in the Indian Subcontinent, the Madras Railway Company began to network South India in 1856. The first station was built at Royapuram, which remained the main station at that time. Expansion of the Madras Railways network, particularly the completion of the Madras–Vyasarpadi line,called for a second station in Madras, resulting in Madras Central coming into being.
The terminus lies on the southern arm of the diamond junction of Chennai's railway network, where all the lines of the Chennai Suburban Railway meet. The terminus is located about 19 km from Chennai International Airport. The main entrance is located at Park Town at the intersection of the arterial Poonamallee High Road, Pallavan Salai, and Wall Tax Road between the People's Park and the Southern Railways headquarters. The station premises is located on either side of the Buckingham Canal, formerly known as Cochrane's Canal, which separates the main station and the suburban terminus. Wall Tax Road runs alongside the station on the eastern side. There are two other entrances on the eastern and western sides of the complex. The eastern entrance on Wall Tax Road leads to platform no. 1, and the western entrance lies at the entrance of the suburban terminus. The station is connected with the Park railway station and the Government General Hospital, both located across the road, by means of subways. During the building of the Chennai Metro the connection from Chennai Park to Chennai Central is by means of a steel footbridge.
Chennai Central station is a terminal station with bay platforms. The average length of railway tracks in the station is 600 metres. The entire complex has 15 platforms to handle long-distance trains with 3 platforms exclusively for suburban trains. The total length of the station is about 950 m. The main building has 12 platforms and handles long distance trains. The complex for suburban trains is popularly known as the Moore Market complex. There is a platform 2A between platforms 2 and 3; it is used to handle relatively short trains like the Rajadhani Express, Vijayawada Jan Shatabdi Express, Bangalore/Mysore Shatabdi Express and the Gudur Passenger. The 13-storied annexe building, the Moore Market Complex Building, has 3 platforms and handles north- and westbound suburban trains.
Chennai Central used to have trains with special liveries until the early 1990s. The Brindavan Express used to have green livery with a yellow stripe running above and below the windows; Nilgiri Express (popularly known as the Blue Mountain Express) had blue livery. All trains now have the standard blue livery (denoting air-braked bogies). Notable exceptions include the Rajadhani, Shatabdi and the Jan Shatabdi expresses. The Saptagiri/Tirupati Express has a vivid green/cream livery combination with a matching WAM4 6PE loco from Arakkonam (AJJ) electric loco shed.
The station has bookshops, restaurants, accommodation facilities, Internet browsing centres, and a shopping mall. The main waiting hall can hold up to 1,000 people. In spite of being the most important terminus of the region, the station lacks several facilities such as drinking water facility,a medical unit and coach position display boards. The main concourses too have long exhausted their capacity to handle the increasing passenger crowd. There are passenger operated enquiry terminals and seven touch-screen PNR status machines in the station. The station has three split-flap timing boards,electronic display boards and Plasma TVs that mention train timings and platform number. A passenger information center in the station has been upgraded with "Spot your Train" live train display facility, information kiosks and passenger digital assistance booths. The terminus, however, has only 10 toilets, which is inadequate to its 350,000 passengers.
As of 2008, there were 607 licensed railway porters in Chennai Central. Four-seater battery operated vehicles are available to cater to the needs of the elderly and the physically impaired.
On 26 September 2014, Chennai Central station became the first in the country to get free Wi-Fi connectivity. The facility is being provided by RailTel, a public sector telecom infrastructure provider.