Mumbai local: Central Railway platforms provide height of horror

Wednesday, 8 January 2014 - 7:58am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Tracks on the central line are at a lower level. Work is being done more frequently to raise the height of tracks. But track-lifting leaves a dangerous gap between the platform and train footboard, endangering lives of thousands of passengers.
  • Swapnil Sakhare DNA

Minding the gap hasn’t been easy for the railways anywhere in the city but if you are a Central Railway (CR) commuter, the news is far worse.

That is because nature itself is working against you. The tracks on the CR are at a lower level than the Western Railway (WR) and the work on raising the height of tracks goes on more frequently. When the height of the track is raised, it leaves a dangerous gap between the platform and the footboard of a train. It is a prefect Catch-22 situation.

The best example would be to stand at platform number four of Sion station and look at the sidewall of platform number 3. It is like a multi-layered sandwich, a testimony of the number of times the height of the platform has been raised. Unfortunately, the gap between the platform and the train footboard still remains a matter of concern.

Another example is a storm water drain that runs beneath Currey Road towards Mahalaxmi station and then to the sea. The storm water drain is 5 metres higher at Mahalaxmi than when it is at Currey Road.

Another pointer is the fact that CR tracks are so low that it has only one subway near Godrej factory at Vikhroli, while WR has several subways between Churchgate and Virar.

With massive construction going on all along the western fringe of stations between Kurla and Mulund, a phenomenon CR officials are seeing is that plinth levels of these residential colonies are getting higher when compared to the tracks.

“These places were once manufacturing units with ground levels at par with the tracks and most of the ground being non-concretised. This is causing water to seep into tracks and into railway culverts at higher speed and at higher rates,” pointed out an official.

With construction activities set to get bigger in the coming years, CR officials say a fresh round of track lifting isn’t far off. That would mean only one thing for the 40 lakh-odd commuters on CR – the comeback of the yawning gap.

CST
No station in India has had so much written about its architecture as CST. However, for a commuter running to catch a local train, the station’s heavy south bias means more than 80 per cent of people use it from the entrances/ exits at the southern end of the station. It is a nightmare during peak hours. Work on a new FOB connecting the current one to all 18 platforms is on with authorities believing it should be done in the next couple of months. The platforms are wide and allow people to alight from either side of a train. The stalls that lined the concourse have all been removed, increasing the moving space. CST is possibly the only station which comes close to the comforts that suburban travellers are entitled to.

Masjid

—Salman Ansari/dna

It was in 2007 that the railway authorities pulled off one of the largest station remodeling work at Masjid by squeezing in a platform in the western fringe and hoisting a new and wider road overbridge on the station. However, the platforms are narrow. The landings of the FOBs on the platforms make it crowded during peak hours. The station sees huge footfalls due to its proximity to business areas like Masjid, Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar.

Sandhurst Road
The station has a single narrow platform and its height is low leading to a higher gap between the platform and train footboard. The station is accessible only from the south-end with a concourse that connects the station to the two elevated platforms of the Harbour line leg of Sandhurst station.

The densely crowded Dongri area as well as railway offices in the Wadi Bunder area and port and transport related offices on PD’Mello Road make the station far more crowded than the facilities allotted to it by the railways.

Byculla
One of the older station which retains many of its British era facets like heavy iron pillars, the station is less of a nightmare than some of the other stations on CR. The FOBs are wide, but see a lot of beggars. The toilets on the north-west tip of the station is in a well-lighted area close to the landing of a FOB thus making it look safe. Like several other stations that are running 15-coach trains, its platforms number two, three and four have no covering for the extended part.

Chinchpokli
The station is like a carbon-copy of Currey Road in its structure and also its problems. The only addition here is the FOB in the south-end from which alighting on the east side and moving to Ambedkar Road is easy. The station is at its nightmarish best during the Ganesh festivities.

Currey Road
The station has just one platform. It is increasingly becoming difficult to manage the crowd here as it sees huge footfalls due to commercial complexes coming up in areas around Lower Parel, Worli on the west and Parel and Sewri in the east. The station is accessible only from the north-end, making it a long walk for people. Ticket counters are on an elevated level. The slope leading to the platforms is a slippery nightmare during the monsoon. The toilets underneath the slope don’t look safe.

Parel
A disaster in the making, Parel station caught the railway authorities napping as the area around it changed from mills to malls. Crowd increased, the platform, already among the narrower ones on the suburban system, started looking all the more inadequate. Parel soon needed to have RPF personnel posted during rush hours on the heavily-used FOB on the southern-end. A newly-constructed FOB on the northern tip remains thoroughly under-utilised because people using the FOB have to walk a long way along a fenced path to get to the south FOB. Toilets under the south FOB are inadequate and the second set of platforms – number 3 and 4 – are only used to run trains carrying railway employees. Also with the platform being a nine-coach one, having to halt trains twice over would hit punctuality.

Dadar
Station rivalling Kurla in the commuter dissatisfaction scale if there ever was one made by the railway authorities. It has six platforms, three of which are used by long-distance and suburban trains making it sometimes jam-packed. The scene can be seen on a daily basis on platform number four as huge crowd waits for the fast locals and also for trains going towards the south and Konkan. Platform numbers one and two are narrow. Clearing the station and making ones way to the foot-overbridge can take over 15 minutes during the peak hours, around the same time it takes to reach Kurla from Dadar. The crowd at Dadar is such that the middle FOB, once reputed to be the widest in Asia, looks narrow during rush hours. Adequate number of stalls, water kiosks and toilets are there.

Matunga
A station which has a north bias with ticket counters and FOB on the southern tip. The station has a second platform though it is not used much expect for workmen’s specials run for railway employees. The FOB on the south which then gets connected to Matunga station on the Western Railway is a narrow one and feels unsafe during night, thanks to inadequate lighting and the metal panels placed on either side to cut the view into the workshop floor. The height of the platform is on the lower side and causes discomfort. The presence of RPF barracks and kennel close to the station means there is a steady presence of RPF personnel at the station giving it a visible sense of safety.

Sion
Another station which has all its facilities on the southern-end, including the ticket windows on an elevated level and the toilets underneath. A FOB built on the north-end of the station has done precious little to reduce the crowd. It could have been better used if the FOB was taken all the way to the LBS Road. Platform number one is wide and spacious. Two and three are narrow. Platform number three is one which doesn’t have train halts. Toilets are on the southern tip of the platform two and three.

Kurla

—Swapnil Sakhare/dna

It’s easily among the worst stations on the suburban map with FOBs being taken over by hawkers. Most of the FOBs are narrow and all eight platforms see worst kind of commuter chaos.

Stalls, water kiosks or the height of platforms don’t matter much here because the primary concern is the crowd and the sheer trouble navigating the sprawling station. A fifth FOB, much wider than the current ones, is under construction. The Harbour line platforms number 7 and 8 are among the worst in terms of crowd management. A subway that was supposed to be a pedestrian-cum-motorist one was abandoned midway after the BMC and the CR couldn’t come up with a solution on where to start the subway in the civil areas.

Ghatkopar
Three foot-overbridges and four platforms are fairly adequate to manage the crowd for several years. However, it might all change soon with the station becoming the terminal point for the city’s first metro between Andheri and Ghatkopar. The first of the commuter miseries has already started with platform number one getting flooded during the monsoon. The roads on the western side are higher than the platform and the construction of the metro station have meant that water gushes onto the platform and tracks within minutes of a heavy drizzle. There are enough stalls, a skywalk on the east that connects to the station, but for commuters the starting of the metro will see a northward rise in crowd using the station.

Vikhroli
Another station that sees heavy passenger rush thanks to colonies along the western fringe as well the congested Tagore Nagar, Kannamwar Nagar areas and several Godrej facilities on the east. The closing down of a level crossing on the south-end and construction of a FOB have brought relief to passengers. An escalator is being built for the station and a road-overbridge for motorists is also planned. The station, however, doesn’t have too many water kiosks.\Kanjurmarg
The station, which is seeing more footfalls due to manufacturing complexes in the Kanjurmarg area becoming residential ones, is woefully inadequate to handle the crowd. It is a single platform structure with tracks on either side. The height of the platform is something that creates discomfort for people alighting. Plenty of open spaces on the western side and just a single foot-overbridge on the northern end mean people walk along the tracks to board trains. That’s the reason why the station sees an unusually high number of track deaths.

Vidyavihar

—Hemant Padalkar/dna

Another single platform structure used heavily by students. People with luggage also alight here to avoid the madness at Kurla to get to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus. The lone FOB is a long one but it is too narrow. A new FOB is in the final stages of construction on the northern-end that will be a boon for people wanting to get to Rajawadi hospital. Facilities like water kiosks and stalls are inadequate and the platform height is also on the lower side.

Bhandup
Three foot-overbridges, one of which is connected to the skywalk that comes in all the way from LBS Road on the west, makes entry into the station easy. Construction of residential complexes along the LBS Road has put immense pressure on the station. Toilet at the north-end of the platforms two and three make it inconvenient for people. The height of the platforms was raised a few months ago.

Nahur
Among the newest stations on the central line, the only feature it can boast of is a platform that is wider than most other stations. The height of the platform from the tracks is also within the limits of commuter comfort. However, that is where the good news for the station ends. The station was built because the distance between Mulund and Bhandup was on the higher side and the people living in the areas falling in between had started demanding a station for themselves. However, the station was built in such a way that the only way to get to the Mulund-Goregaon Link Road – to get to the LBS Road on the west or the Eastern Express Highway – was by walking along bush-lined path built on a swampy patch of land on the western side. The path is a no-no for women.

Mulund
It is among the better stations simply because it has a bit of space on its western fringes with exits that directly open into the road. The foot overbridges are wider and the platforms are not too crowded, especially three and four which see only a select number of fast trains halting there. A huge railway staff colony on the eastern side and the Railway Protection Force barracks and parade ground ensure that the top brass of the Central Railway drop in at the station on ceremonial occasions like Independence and Republic Days. So, the station gets its paint works and general cleaning done with fair regularity.


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