Mumbai stampede: Elphinstone FOB won't be wide open anytime soon. Here's why

Oct 02, 2017, 08:01 IST | Laxman Singh

Rail minister announces construction and widening of over 40 FOBs, but British-era Carol Bridge remains narrow and perennially jammed

The railways has announced construction and widening of over 40 foot overbridges (FOBs) in the next one year, but the one at Elphinstone Road station - one of the oldest and most important in terms of east-west connectivity - is still rickety and narrow as ever.

With a rapid rise in corporate houses in the area and also due to its narrow width, Carol Bridge is jammed most of the time. File pic
With a rapid rise in corporate houses in the area and also due to its narrow width, Carol Bridge is jammed most of the time. File pic

About five years ago, the railways and civic body had planned widening and reconstruction of the nearly 100-year-old British-era rail overbridge, also known as Carol Bridge. However, plans have only reached the survey stage so far. Currently, during peak hours, the bridge sees traffic jams on both sides.

Following the stampede at the Elphinstone Road station FOB, which killed 23, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced construction of 30 and widening of 13 FOBs.

Choc-a-bloc
With a rapid rise in corporate houses in the area and also due to its narrow width, Carol Bridge is jammed most of the time. Sometimes ambulances headed to KEM and Wadia hospitals also get stuck in the traffic.

According to some eyewitnesses and reports, traffic jam on the bridge on Friday affected the quick ferrying of stampede victims in private vehicles to hospital.

A shopkeeper near the bridge told mid-day, "After the stampede, the first help came from the share taxis parked below the bridge. The first three rescued were put in the cabs, but they got stuck on the bridge in traffic; by the time, they reached hospital, they were declared dead."

"They could have been saved had they reached hospital a little early," he added.

Space constraints
When asked about the status of the bridge-widening work, a civic official said the biggest problem was space constraints as both ends have buildings.

"Both east and west ends of the bridge have many buildings and less space. For the project, we need to rehabilitate the structures; otherwise it's not possible," an official from the bridge department explained.

Chief Engineer, Bridge Department, S O Kori told mid-day, "We are doing a joint survey with railway officials to find out the best possible solution for widening the bridge. We will have to shift the residents living in buildings on both ends."

Another British-era bridge, the 136-year-old Hancock Bridge, which was demolished last year and is yet to be reconstructed, too faces the same hurdle in being widened - space constraints at both ends.


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