The brand new escalator at Thane station which happens to be the first of its kind at a suburban railway station has run into technical glitches even before it could be used by a single passenger.
All thanks to an absurd oversight by the authorities, which claim they didn’t expect it to rain so heavily ‘in the beginning’. The escalator, which was scheduled to be inaugurated in the first week of June after missing three earlier deadlines, is yet to see the light of day, owing to the lack of an overhead shed, which exposed the brand new installation to the elements, causing it to experience problems.
A Central Railway (CR) official said, “We had thought about the monsoons, but we did not expect such heavy rain in the beginning. The contract for the shed and the installation was given simultaneously. But the escalator was installed first, and then it started to rain. We had some problems with the escalator since it was kept exposed to the rains, but we are repairing it.” Work on the shed is yet to start, but railway officials are busy deciding on the new dates for the inauguration.
Even though they are yet to iron out kinks in the first escalator, they have started work on a second, which is between platforms five and six. The escalator, built at a cost of Rs 75 lakh between platform number 3 and 4, was originally to be inaugurated on March 31. The deadlines were pushed to April 15 and then to April 30. Further delays ensued, and a final date was set for the first week of June.
This too was missed. Venu P Nair, the divisional secretary of Northern Railway Men’s Union (NRMU), slammed the mismanagement of the railway officials, saying, “It’s a failure on the part of the administration. Before announcing the dates of inaugurating the project, the authorities should have made all other necessary arrangements. They knew of the impending rains but yet decided to install the escalators first and then build the shed. This is very irresponsible behaviour on part of the CR authorities.”
Atul Rane, chief public relations officer, CR, said, “Earlier, we had planned to throw open the escalators without the shed but considering the rain and the convenience of passengers, we have decided to build a shed and then start the escalators for commuters.”
The makeover plan
Thane is the first ever station in the city to have escalators, as a part of the makeover plan to transform Thane station into a ‘world-class’ station. The escalator 1.7 metres in width has a capacity to carry around 6,000 passengers per hour and 100 passengers per minute. Authorities have also planned to install 31 escalators at various railway stations including Dadar, Kurla, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar, Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan, Andheri, Goregaon and Borivli, by July 2014. These escalators will cost Rs 75 lakh each, including maintenance for three years.
Rs 75 lakh
The cost of the escalator
The number of people the escalator can carry per hour
The number of commuters at Thane station everyday, making it the busiest suburban station