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CR builds yet another costly FOB, but cuts down on escalator cost

There seems to be no way of convincing the railway authorities that their costly foot over-bridges (FOB) aren’t helping passengers much. Even though passengers on the Central Railway (CR) network have given a thumb’s down to the brand new FOB at the Parel station, officials are busy making plans for yet another expensive FOB on the same station.

FOB over Parel station
Flopshow: Passengers hardly ever use the newly constructed FOB over Parel station, which was inaugurated on August 15. Pic/Shadab Khan

When it comes to the much-anticipated escalators on the network however, they seem to be in cost-cutting mode, having decided that the escalators will only ferry passengers one way. The reason that they have furnished for this new decision is the lack of funds.

The new FOB at the Kalyan-end of the Parel station came at a cost of Rs 1.04 crore, and was opened to the public on August 15. However, it soon became evident that the 4.88-metre wide bridge was being given a wide berth by the public, who seemed to have no use for it.

“People used to cross tracks and in order to stop that, this FOB was built. It is meant for those who have time and leisure to walk such a long distance, even before reaching the road,” said a CR official on condition of anonymity. Moreover, this FOB has only one landing on the east side of the station, unlike the older one that also connects to Elphinstone Road station on the west side.

Convinced that the solution to the problem is yet another FOB, CR authorities are now proposing a third FOB that would be part of their Rs 60 crore Parel mini-terminus project. The new FOB will connect both east and west ends of the station. A new platform will also be constructed while the existing platforms will be extended to accommodate 15-car trains. A new skywalk will be joining the platforms and the road over-bridge.

One-way escalators
While making these grand plans for one station, however, the authorities seem to be on a penny-saving mode when it comes to other planned projects — for instance, the proposed and much-needed escalators at Vikhroli, Dadar and other stations. It was recently announced that these will only work one way, helping people go up, but leaving them to climb down the stairs.

Admitting that the one-way escalators were being built in order to cut costs, they also claimed that this would also reduce strain on the motors, as thousands of passengers will be using them every day.

Subodh Jain, general manager, CR, said, “We are installing only one-way escalators due to limited funds. The escalators will encourage people to use the FOBs.”

After the first few escalators are installed at Dadar and Vikhroli, stations in Thane, Kalyan, Dombivli, Byculla on the Central network and in Andheri, Goregaon and Borivli on the Western line will be provided with two escalators each.

In the next phase, 32 escalators will be installed at various suburban and non-suburban railway stations. The escalators will be one-metre wide and six metres high.

The escalators will cost
Rs 1 crore each and will carry nearly 9,000 passengers per hour. The first deadline has been set for June 2013, but there is likely to be a delay, as tenders have not been floated yet. 

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