Escalators at railway stations in Mumbai seem like an obvious facility to have, what with the huge crowds of people pushing each other on staircases.

Officials said that by the time the tenders for new escalators are floated, the current ones will have undergone wear and tear and will cause problems to commuters. File pic
Officials said that by the time the tenders for new escalators are floated, the current ones will have undergone wear and tear and will cause problems to commuters. File pic

Yet, if you’re surprised that so few stations actually have escalators, you can blame the Railway Board, which hasn’t yet passed the tenders necessary for their installation. The Board is in charge of all railway development projects across India.

Of the 33 escalators that were slated to be installed on Central Railway, only 9 have actually materialised the Vikhroli escalator will be completed this month, say officials. Similarly, on Western Railway, only 7 of the total 22 promised are seen at stations. The rest are stuck in limbo, because the Board is yet to issue tenders to procure parts for the machinery.

Second phase
Apart from this, the Railway Board has also not floated tenders for the second phase of installing escalators at platforms. Railway officials say the tendering process itself will take at least six months; add another few months to allow for the escalators to be set up.

“Mumbaikars won’t get more escalators anytime soon, as the Railway Board has not even issued tenders for the next phase. This is a difficult situation for us because by the time the tenders actually surface, and work begins, these escalators will have then undergone wear and tear. These ones will be damaged and will create problems for passengers,” said a senior CR official.

Moreover, officials from both CR and WR said that they have requested the Board to give them the rights to call for tenders for escalators. But, the board deemed it wiser to allot tenders simultaneously to all zonal railways all over India.