Foot over bridges at Mumbai railway stations are a disaster waiting to happen

Sep 30, 2017, 19:58 IST | Rajendra Aklekar and Chetna Yerunkar

The narrow and overcrowded railway foot over bridge where the tragedy took place, had been the source of many complaints

Locals and experts claim the tragedy at Elphinstone Road station yesterday was a disaster waiting to happen. It is a warning bell for other railway stations in the city such as Bandra, Kurla and Ghatkopar, which are along the fast growing commercial hubs, where over-crowding during peak hours is a regular phenomenon.

Representation pic
Representation pic

The narrow and overcrowded railway foot over bridge where the tragedy took place, had been the source of many complaints since many years, and the railways have obviously not taken action. While every other station got a new bridge, escalator or other amenities, the fate of Parel and Elphinstone Road stations remained unchanged. A bridge built at the far north end at Parel station and never used, is an example of the shoddy planning by the railways.

The Elphinstone Road station bridge, built in 1972, is the only main bridge that connects Central and Western Railway. Though extremely crowded, it is always occupied by hawkers on the Central Railway side, who sit directly under railways' CCTV cameras, yet no action is taken against them despite the hindrance they cause to passenger movement.

The crowd has been increasing continuously since more and more offices shifted to Parel and Elphinstone, in addition to the Dadar market crowd. Identical problems are noted around Bandra and Kurla railway stations, after the development of Bandra-Kurla Complex and the increase of commercial spaces here.

Western Railway officials said there is no dearth of funds for safety related works, and a new 12-metre long foot bridge at the north end, parallel to the bridge where the stampede happened, has already been sanctioned at the cost of Rs 6.75 crore. It will connect Western Railway and Central Railway. The platforms at Elphinstone Road station are to be extended about 100 metres along with the construction of this bridge. The bridge was approved on September 22 and the tender was floated yesterday morning. The bids will be opened in November 2017. Former Union Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu, had given in principle approval and sanctioned construction of the additional 12-metre wide FOB.

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