Action Stations: Byculla bustle

A lack of cleanliness 'n' crimes are problems plaguing commuters.

Central Railway's important station on the Main Line, Byculla is vital to commuters on both the fast and slow tracks.

Women feel the toilet at the station is far from clean. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Women feel the toilet at the station is far from clean. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Jalna Purandare who commutes from Thane to Byculla every day for work says, "The washrooms are in pathetic condition. I had taken my children to the zoo one day when my daughter wanted to go to the washroom while we were at the station. The condition of the toilets is very bad broken buckets, no water, and bad sanitation. I vomited with the stink and regretted the decision as my daughter suffered an infection after that."

Byculla is an important station on the Central Railway Main Line. Pic/Satyajit Desai
Byculla is an important station on the Central Railway Main Line. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Dreadfully dirty
The receptionist who works at Mazgaon says, "After that incident with my daughter, I am very scared. I felt very guilty about it; the sight of that washroom terrorises me even today. I prefer to go to office and relieve myself or wait till I get home as I do not want to enter it again."

The platforms at Byculla are connected well to each other
The platforms at Byculla are connected well to each other

Byculla station is never swept or cleaned regularly says Masood Ali, a businessman and resident. He explains, "I was at the station a few days ago when someone vomited on the platform, the mess was not cleaned for two whole days. I complained to the station master, but he said that the cleaners had not come as it was a holiday.

How can such a busy station function without cleaners is beyond me." Shamsher Singh, a physiotherapist who commutes to Byculla says, "Finding a dustbin on platform 1 of Byculla station is a real task. The same is true of platform 4.

Leconte Da Costa Akshay Kamble Sudesna Banerjee
Leconte Da Costa, Akshay Kamble and Sudesna Banerjee

Fortunately, platforms 2 and 3 have a number of food stalls so they have dustbins, chucking garbage is easier there. If people want to dispose trash, the paucity of dustbins is a big challenge." The gents' washroom is also dirty says Leconte Da Costa.

The college student says, "The urinals, wash basins and toilets in all the washrooms at Byculla station are in a bad condition. The situation is worse during the monsoon when the toilet drainage mixes with the water."

Better be safe
Platform 4 at Byculla station is notorious for crimes, according to commuters. Anita Patil, a banker who works at the station says, "I live at CST and often take a fast train from this platform after work. Post 8 pm, the platform becomes very lonely.

I have been robbed and groped a number of times, in the last few months these occurrences have increased considerably. I complained to the police but till today there is no GPRF or RPF personnel on that platform. I have now started to travel by slow train to be safe."

Bhimji Rao, a goldsmith was robbed of R 30,000 and some jewellery at Byculla station a few months ago. The 62-year-old says, "I was travelling to Dadar from Byculla when at the platform, three youngsters pushed me.

By the time I got up, I realised my gold chain, rings and bracelets had been robbed in addition to my wallet that had R 30,000 in it. I complained to the Railways Police and they assured me that they would nab the culprits. Till today, I haven't managed to get back my valuables."

Kunti Yadav who lives at Byculla and frequents the station to go to her brother's house at Titwala, says she avoids wearing jewellery and carrying cash at the station. The housewife says, "My husband was robbed at Byculla station on his way to work, this has made me vigilant.

I prefer carrying my credit and debit cards as they are easy to block in case of a robbery. Jewellery and cash once lost is gone forever."

Some positives
Yet there are some good things to be said about Byculla too. Sudesna Banerjee who commutes from the station says that she likes the food stalls at Byculla. The security professional says, "Byculla station has some really good, hygienic food stalls that serve very tasty food.

They are economical as well. The bhel, vada pav and samosa on the stall on platform 2-3 are the best in the city. The medical room at the station is good too. I have seen them treating many injured people." The gap between the platform and train at Byculla station is decent and the foot overbridges are in good condition according to commuters.

Da Costa says, "Byculla is perhaps the only station on the Central Line which has good infrastructure especially with respect to the platform height and bridges. Also, the booking counters work well with many smart card machines available in both the East and West. So tickets are never an issue here."

Banerjee adds, "The lighting is good at the station at all times and getting a taxi is easy at all hours. However, I would like to see more police presence especially after 8 pm when a number of troublemakers wander the station platforms.

A few more ticket checkers at Byculla would also be nice as there are many ticketless travellers who get into the first class, which is a problem." The station has foot overbridges that connect all the platforms of Byculla well.

The steps are in good condition, but there is need for more cleanliness at the station. The booking counters work well, there are many smart card machines which makes it easier for commuters to book tickets.

Byculla station is a very vital commuter hub and needs certain remedial measures. Authorities must take a look at complaints and problems at this landmark on the commuting landscape. This is part of our ongoing series on railway stations seen through the eyes of commuters.

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