Wadala Station woes for Mumbai's train commuters

The Harbour Line station has foot overbridges that lack connectivity, unclean washrooms, dirty platforms and a huge gap between platform and train

For commuters on the Harbour Line of Mumbai’s suburban railway network, Wadala is an important stop. The Harbour Line trains to Andheri and Panvel fork at this station, which makes Wadala significant on the commuting map.

Wadala Station
Dangerous: Entering the train by crossing the tracks and jumping over the divider is common at Wadala. Pics/Atul Kamble

Yogendra Kansara, media professional who commutes to Wadala station every day says, “I live at Santacruz and so use the Harbour Line to commute. The station is crowded at all times which makes getting out of the station take at least 5 to 10 minutes at any time of day. The narrow foot overbridges are the primary cause of concern.”

MISSING IT: Commuters claim Wadala had many functional coupon machines, but lacks smart card machines
Missing it: Commuters claim Wadala had many functional coupon machines, but lacks smart card machines

Crossing over
For Ekata Mishra, the bridge again is a problem. She says, “Wadala station’s bridges are not sufficient to deal with the crowd that commutes from it every day. The bridges are narrow and it gets very claustrophobic every time a train comes at the platform.

Ekata Mishra
Ekata Mishra

Also, the hawkers on the bridges compound the problem. The only good thing is that one bridge connects to the skywalk. I now do not need to use the road that goes through the slums in the East.”

The station urgently needs a new bridge according to Prem Thakur, an architect who lives at Wadala. He says, “The current commuter population cannot suffice with two bridges. We badly need a new bridge to relieve the stress from the existing bridges. Sometimes, to avert the crowd I opt to cross the tracks as I do not want to miss my train. I know that it is dangerous but there is little option as the frequency of trains to Vashi is bad.”

Latif Borkar, a trader who frequently commutes from Wadala, also admits to crossing the tracks on occasion. The Mumbra resident says, “I change trains at Wadala to head to Bandra and there are times when both trains arrive at the same time. There have been times when I get off, jump the divider and enter the next train. This saves me the trouble of getting off at the platform and using the bridge. It is dangerous, but on the Harbour Line there is little choice.”

Infrastructure issues
College student Hansel DeSa says, “The infrastructure at Wadala station is bad. There is a paucity of benches and fans which makes waiting at the station tough. The foot overbridges have broken steps at a number of places. Escalators and a new bridge are the need of the hour. Platform 4 has no food stalls which is a huge inconvenience for commuters. If I want to eat something I have to head to the other platforms.”

Hansel DeSa
Hansel DeSa

Crystal Rodrigues who commutes to college in Bandra adds, “Wadala station lacks cleanliness. The platforms and bridges are strewn with litter and spit. The dustbins on platforms 2 and 3 are insufficient. Platform 1 smells of urine and the washroom is filthy. People defecate on the tracks.”

Crystal Rodrigues
Crystal Rodrigues

Booking tickets at Wadala is a painful process according to Firoze Nullwallah. The businessman says, “The counters are often closed, and the smart card machines don’t work. The coupon machines were a saving grace, but now that has been discontinued. Commuting is going to be a huge problem unless the ticket troubles are addressed by authorities. We need more smart card machines and better booking counter services.”

Safety concerns
The police presence at the station is also extremely poor. Zarine Khwaja who commutes to Chembur from Wadala says, “The overcrowded bridges are favourite spots for molestation and groping. I was pushed by a man on an occasion, I caught him. And took him to the police station after slapping him. But the police did not cooperate much; he alleged that he pushed me by mistake. The police sided with him and told me to drop the matter as such things happen in crowded places.”

Roshan Samarth, a banker, has been robbed at Wadala station. He says, “My wallet was flicked with Rs 3,000 and on another occasion my mobile phone was stolen on a crowded bridge. I complained to the police, but my valuables were never recovered. I now avoid carrying too much cash and use a simple phone.”

Senior citizen Harish Pandey, a singer, says, “There is a huge gap between the train and platform. This is a problem for me. Last year, I fractured my leg as it got stuck in the gap. Fortunately, someone pulled the chain and I was rescued or else there would have been a big disaster. I was rushed to the hospital.”

Wadala station lacks a medical room, a shocking lacuna for a station that is a high risk spot for accidents. Commuters crossing tracks, going from one platform to another by jumping over the divider, gap between train and the platform all pose the risk of fatal injuries.

The crowd at the station on the two narrow foot overbridges points to the need for another broader foot overbridge or a subway. This will help reduce the commuter rush, stop track and train crossing and reduce crimes considerably. More police on the platforms will also aid that. The gap between the platform and the train needs to be bridged.

Also, more fans, benches and dustbins are needed on all platforms. More smart card machines and better service at the ticket booking counters will aid commuters. Clean toilets are a must.

Wadala railway station has a number of problems which need to be addressed at the earliest to make it safer for commuters.

This is part of our ongoing series on railway stations seen through the eyes of commuters.

Harbouring hazards
>>A new, broader foot overbridge is needed to reduce commuter stress on the two existing bridges.
>>A functional medical room to provide first aid to commuters.
>>Clean toilets for both men and women.
>>Increased police presence to reduce crimes that are on the rise.
>> Gap between the platform and train needs to be reduced.

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