One of the busiest stations on the Western Railway, Churchgate sees an inflow of more than
5 lakh commuters in a day. As people jostle to alight from trains in the morning or rush to enter the carriages in the evening, a grave danger awaits them – the unusually wide gap between the footboard and the platform. Several people become victims of this gap, which cost them their limbs or lives. Even during non-peak hours, the situation makes life difficult for senior citizens. Only the platform section that was extended to accommodate 15-car rakes have perfect platform height. This apart, congested approach routes such as the run-down subway at the northern end and the hawker-infested underpass in the south need the attention of WR officials.
2. MARINE LINES
Poor visibility compounds the problem arising out of the platform-train gap at the northern end of the station. Commuters using platform Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are more vulnerable to mishaps. Authorities must ensure these areas are better lit. Even though there are sufficient ticket counters on the elevated deck, commuters said having the same on the other end (Marine Line East) will evenly distribute the load . There is also a need to keep ATVM and CVM machines on the foot-over-bridge at the Virar end, they say.
3. CHARNI ROAD
Charni Road , for sure, needs to be remodelled to accommodate the increasing passenger rush. Second and third platforms are very narrow to fit the rush during peak hours. In the current scenario, despite the gaping holes between the carriages and platforms, commuters have no option but to take risks. To add to these woes, the station lacks amenities like water dispensers, food stalls and proper lighting. Office-goers say even if WR provide these facilities on the existing platforms, it will lead to even lesser space. Presence of only two foot- over-bridges makes condition worse as people have to force themselves to climb the stairs.
4. GRANT ROAD
In early 2013, there was a budget only to raise the height of platform No. 1 – the station has four platforms. A lot needs to be done to make this station commuter-friendly. Setting up more ticket counters, installing ticket vending machines, better lighting and availability of drinking water will bring some solace to the hassled commuter of the suburban system. Although a skywalk has been constructed, it is yet to be connected to the other foot-over-bridge. Hawkers block paths from the eastern side.
5. MUMBAI CENTRAL
This is an important station on the WR map, with several long-distance trains starting from here. This station provides some consolation for disabled commuters as there are ramps. But the risky platform-train stretch takes away all the smile. Passengers have to struggle to enter or leave the station. The lane outside the western end is dotted with hawkers, while, on the other side, two FOBs combine to one, making the walkway more congested. Commuters expect more ticketing facilities, be it booking counters or vending machines. Also, the portions below FOBs are dark.
Of the three platforms, one is not in use, and the other two are for slow services. When India’s first monorail will be opened, from Wadala to Jacob’s Circle, by end-2014, it will only increase the footfalls here. This might also mean an increase in mishaps because of the gap between carriages and platforms. The station lacks emergency services, with the absence of an ambulances outside. Here too, lighting is a problem under the FOB, which is a big cause of concern for elderly commuters. Although there are sufficient number of ticket counters and vending machines on the FOB, there is a need to add at least one more bridge for better passenger dispersal system. Even the accessibility on the road over bridge isn’t great, with better management required.
7. LOWER PAREL
Once a station catering to locals and mill workers, Lower Parel today is more of a business district. It’s a story of mills to malls. But the transformation is yet to be seen on the platforms, except on No.1. The only addition that this station has witnessed in the last so many years is an FOB, which is lesser used. The long queues at the few ticketing counters on the western side further narrow down the space to enter the station. Street vendors crowd the bridge at the northern end despite the presence of cops at the station.
8. ELPHINSTONE ROAD
The only exception. Here both platforms have been raised to the ideal height of 9 cm. But many other problems dog the station. Similar to Lower Parel, one visible addition here is the FOB at the Churchgate-end. Commuters accuse WR authorities of being lackadaisical with regard to improving access to this station and improving the connectivity with Central Railway’s Parel station. The pedestrian pathway on the British era- made Elphinstone road-over-bridge is too narrow for easy movement of commuters. Furthermore, the bridge connecting the station with Parel, too, needs to be widened, apart from removing hawkers inside railway premises.
Being a major station for decades now, Dadar continues to be one of the busiest stations on the city’s rail network. Western Railway authorities should urgently increase the height of platforms 1, 2, 3 and 5 and attempts should be made to make the station disabled-friendly. In the last decade, WR has constructed the widest FOB of Asia at Dadar, connecting Western and Central Railways and an FOB at the Virar-end. This makes the total number of bridges in Dadar at five. There are plenty of booking counters as well as ticket vending machines. But space constraints within the station and outside make train ride problematic as passengers have to tackle several hurdles to reach their destination. The menace of hawkers persists at Dadar, too.
10. MATUNGA ROAD
More-than-desired train-platform space continues to put commuters’ lives at risk. Despite a rise in footfalls, passenger facilities remain the same. There are ticketing counters only on the western side of the station (southern-end). More should be added on the eastern side as
well as towards the Dadar-end – on the new bridge.
There’s a need for booking counters on the eastern side. The two on the western side seem to be adequate enough to handle the crowd. Authorities should take steps to raise the height of all platforms. Despite ample space outside the station, not even a single ambulance is there to rush emergency cases to the nearest hospital.
A junction on the rail map with a heritage precinct, Bandra surely needs to be more passenger-friendly. This station is a classic example of how authorities turn a blind eye towards passenger inconveniences. Apart from dangerously low platforms, hawkers dotting the FOB, junkies, poor lighting and autos blocking entrances on the eastern side are some of the major problems. When dna visited the station, it found four police vehicles parked on the pavement outside in the west, but not a single ambulance, as directed by the Bombay High Court, could be found.
13. KHAR ROAD
Work is in progress to improve the height of two platforms. This station is largely okay in providing passenger amenities, though there is a need to improve access to the station. The entrance, as well as the station building, resemble some small town, with one having to guess the entrance.
14. SANTA CRUZ
Being an important station, several things need to be fixed at Santa Cruz. Widening and increasing the height of the main-line slow tracks are needed as commuter rush keeps rising. One more FOB will improve the connectivity with other platforms or the roads outside.
The London way
“Mind the gap, please” message by 1960s actor Oswald Laurence was once famous across the London Underground. It was gradually phased out as public address systems were upgraded. Following a request by Laurence’s widow, Tube authorities last year restored the announcement at Embankment station.