Mumbai: Next disaster is arriving on platform No.1 at Ghatkopar railway station

Updated: Aug 30, 2019, 07:14 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

Ground report: Empty office, unwanted fencing, unused vending machines, and a redundant staircase form a deadly cocktail at busy Ghatkopar station, which is a crucial link for local trains and Metro

The narrow entrance to platform 1 is choked during peak hours
The narrow entrance to platform 1 is choked during peak hours

The Central Railway seems to be waiting for another stampede on its suburban network with the design of Ghatkopar station's platform number one. Passenger amenities that are barely used almost suffocate the platform at the station that sees heavy crowds on its local as well as Metro sections. These amenities create bottlenecks in the movement of passengers and could lead to a stampede during peak hours, passenger associations have warned.

Railway data suggests that Ghatkopar is one of the most high-density stations along the Central Railway and also caters to the entire Metro rail crowd turning the platform extremely chaotic during rush hours. A visit by mid-day revealed that platform one (home platform) that opens up on the road is very narrow with very little space for the hundreds of passengers to walk on.

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Staircase below escalator hasn't been demolished yet
Staircase below escalator hasn't been demolished yet

A booking office in the middle of this platform has never been opened since it was inaugurated a few years ago. The abandoned office takes half the space on the platform. It has been barricaded with fencing thus taking some more space. The ticket vending points too lie unused and have merely blocked some square metres of space meant for it.

The platform has a two-way escalator built over the old staircase but the large staircase now completely redundant has not been demolished, blocking more platform space. If removed, the space created could help quick dispersal of passengers out on to the BEST bus stop. The asbestos-sheet wall of the now-redundant staircase, too, has been used by a few stalls that encroach right onto the platform and block the entrance.

Demolishing the staircase and asbestos sheets that cover it will open up platform directly onto road
Demolishing the staircase and asbestos sheets that cover it will open up platform directly onto road

"Ghatkopar is the new Dadar. The immense crowd here somehow manages to struggle and reach the platform and these utilities have been creating problems for them. There is no one to report from the ground about such things. Why can't they break the staircase and remove the stalls that encroach on the platform? Why can't they remove the fencing of the new, useless booking office? Why can't they remove bottlenecks instead of creating new ones?" a frustrated regular commuter, Ankush Shah, told mid-day.

"With an anti-encroachment policy in place, I am surprised by the way Central Railway officials have allowed such shops to take platform space. They are not demolishing the staircase just to protect them. They have created a recipe for disaster," Sulakshana Joshi, another commuter said.

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Space earmarked for ATVMs on the platform
Space earmarked for ATVMs on the platform

Zonal Railway Users' Consultative Committee member Subhash Gupta agreed that Ghatkopar turned worse and that he has been telling railways to do act on it urgently. "The condition of Ghatkopar station is turning worse and the bottlenecks must be removed at once," he said.

"We will inspect the station and platform and take immediate action to clear the bottlenecks. Central Railway has been at the forefront with regard to addressing commuters' complaints," Central Railway senior public relations officer Anil Kumar Jain said.

Booking office lies unused and blocks space on the platform instead;
Booking office lies unused and blocks space on the platform instead;

Suburban passengers
As per a passenger survey and analysis conducted by the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and Wilbur Smith Associates, Ghatkopar has one of the highest density of passengers. This is because it caters to the Mumbai Metro crowds as well. The report states that the highest section load for Down direction (platform one and three) is observed between Ghatkopar and Vikhroli stations (1,02,926 passengers between 6:30pm and 7:30pm).

Metro passengers
On the Mumbai Metro Line One, Ghatkopar remains one of the stations with the maximum ridership of 87,116 on a typical weekday with the 11.40-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) alignment that has 12 stations. It is the eighth densest metro corridor in the world.

The shops opening onto the road, encroach the platform with their rear ends
The shops opening onto the road, encroach the platform with their rear ends

1,02,926
No. of passengers between Ghatkopar and Vikhroli stations around 6.30-7.30 pm

8
Ghatkopar's rank on the list of world's densest Metro rail corridors

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