With the Western Railway’s (WR) auto deck project at Andheri railway station scheduled for an October opening, concerns have been raised about the practicality of the ambitious plan.
For the first time, auto rickshaws would officially enter the railway premises once the elevated deck is thrown open.
The elevated auto lane will crisscross a 12-metre-wide foot overbridge (FOB) that would take the auto rickshaws from one side to the other. WR authorities expect the deck will decongest the busy station road in the East, from where commuters hail autos.
Commuter associations, however, fear that the city’s infamous auto drivers, who have gained notoriety for not adhering to traffic rules, would hinder the chaotic railway station further. “If this auto deck is opened, then they would be allowing outside vehicles inside the rail premises, thus causing security concerns. Also the FOB will become crowded, as the autos will queue up at the deck,” said Kailash Verma, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
Sources in WR said that this auto deck is bound to create further nuisance due to the influx of autos. Officials claim that it would hinder pedestrian movement on the FOB and, moreover, if the FOB is carved up to allow the autos to pass through, it will become difficult for pedestrians to cross, said the WR source.
WR officials, however, are confident that the project would only help the public. “It will facilitate people to board an auto rickshaw without stepping down the FOB,” said S Chandrayan, chief PRO, WR.
Construction of the elevated ramps is almost complete at either end of this auto deck, which is situated on the eastern side of Andheri railway station. Officials said auto rickshaws would enter from one end – either from the northern side or from the end where the new station building has been built – and then proceed to the main road.
WR officials also stated that they plan to construct a flight of stairs at the FOB for people who don’t intend to commute in rickshaws. Further, this deck would also connect to a Skywalk, which will be linked to the VAG Metro station at Andheri and the suburban railway station.
6.6 metres The height of the elevated lane above Andheri station from track level
Rs 6 crore The cost of the elevated auto deck project