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Mumbai local's Harbour Line is harbouring neglect

Thursday, 9 January 2014 - 8:09am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Old trains with non-functional fans and lights, lack of drinking water & toilet facilities at platforms, and absence of station masters at most stations on the Harbour line make commuting a nightmarish experience, finds Dayanand Kamath.

Despite being the country’s fastest growing suburban railway system, the Harbour line is easily the worst-maintained one, neglected in almost all aspects.

While the Harbour line has been seeing a passenger growth of 9.22 per cent for the past several years, its counterparts in Mumbai – western line and central line – have been averaging just 3 per cent.

Several stations on the Harbour line do not even have station masters for most parts of the day. And at some stations the ticket-seller, also called the clerk in-charge (C-in-C), doubles up as station master.

The suburban railway system getting a step-motherly treatment from the railway authorities is evident from the fact that all the trains in the Harbour line are of 9-coach ones, while the Western Railway and the Central Railway have converted to 12-coach and even 15-coach ones.

The harbour line runs old trains. And most of the trains running on the Harbour line were given by the Central Railway after completing 25 years of running on the mainline.

Bad news for the commuters is that unlike full-time station masters – men from the operating department who are given an elaborate 22-day disaster management and trouble shooting courses at Bhusawal every three years, C-in-C gets this training only once when they join service.

On the Harbour line, sources said, there are several such stations being manned 24 hours by such C-in-Cs.

In fact, barring bigger stations like Masjid, Wadala, Kurla, Vashi, Belapur and Panvel where there are station masters in all the three shifts, other stations either do not have one or have them in just a couple of shifts.

There is a Rs714-crore plan to lengthen platforms on the Harbour line and make them compatible to run 12-coach trains. It is about time, say officials, because studies by the railways show that the number of passengers on Harbour line could double by 2021 and triple by 2031.

Mankhurd: This is the last station on the Greater Mumbai civic limit. It has three platforms. Though the station has a foot overbridge, commuters regularly cross tracks to reach the platforms. There is no drinking water facility on platform number 3. CCTV cameras are there, but lack of adequate lighting makes them irrelevant.

Govandi:

Surrounded by slums, the station has no roof over platform number 1. The toilet located on the Mankurd side is in a dilapidated condition. The drinking water dispenser on the platform is leaking. There is no police chowky for GRP personnel.

Chembur:

One of the crowded stations on the Harbour line, it lacks basic amenities such as a lavatory. Though the railway authorities constructed a lavatory at the CST end of the station six months ago, it was locked since then. A gap between platform and the train footboard makes it difficult for the commuters to get in or alight from the locals. There is an illegal entry on the Govandi side of the station.

Tilak Nagar: The station was constructed a few years back for the benefit of people residing at Tilak Nagar and Pestom Sagar colony. There is no entry and exit points on the north side of the station. Hawkers are seen blocking the way for commuters.

Chunabhatti: The station has no drinking water dispenser. Authorities are yet to appoint a station master here.

GTB Nagar: Abandoned building of the Central Railway on track number 2 is a safe haven for drug addicts during night. The station has no drinking water dispenser.

Sewree: The station is notorious for deaths due to trespassing. Commuters enter platforms through illegal entries. Though a foot overbridge is there, no body uses it. The station has seen 33 deaths due to trespassing last year.

Cotton Green: The station desperately needs a foot overbridge. Commuters have to cross the tracks to reach platform due to the nonexistence
of a FOB.

Dockyard Road: Since there is no foot overbridge, commuters are forced to cross tracks to reach platform.

Sandhurst Road: The gap between the platform and train footboard is quite big here due to the curve of the station.

Reay Road:

Pictures by Swapnil Sakhare/dna

The entire station premises is stinking due to parking of BMC garbage trucks just outside the station. There is not a single toilet and drinking water facility.  Drug addicts take shelter in the abandoned railway building during night.

Wadala:

With four platforms, this is one of the biggest junctions on the Harbour line. It is arguably the most crowded station. However, there is not a single drinking water dispenser here. Commuters have to visit Wadala railway police station just outside the platform to drink water.

Station masters Masjid: Three shifts with station masters

Sandhurst: 2 shifts with station masters

Dockyard: No station master

Reay Road: One shift with station masters

Cotton Green: No station master

Sewree: One shift with station masters

Chunnabhatti: No station master

GTB Nagar: No station master

Kurla: 3 shifts with station masters

Tilak Nagar: No station master

Chembur: One shift with station masters

Govandi: No station masters

Mankhurd: One shift with station masters

Vashi: 3 shifts with station masters

Sanpada: No station master

Juinagar: One shift with station masters

Nerul: One shift with station master

Seawoods: No station master

Belapur: 3 shifts with station masters

Kharghar: No station master

Mansarovar: No station master

Khandeshwar: No station master

Panvel: 3 shifts with station masters

9.22% The passenger growth on the Harbour line

3% The passenger growth the western line and central line have registered.




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