New bridge is not convenient for most passengers and is mostly used by vendors to reach their market on nearby Senapati Bapat Marg, say commuters.
Mumbai: A year after 23 people died in a stampede on a foot overbridge in Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station, authorities are yet to make adequate arrangements for daily passengers, say commuters.
The foot overbridge is part the city’s overcrowded suburban railway system, which caters to 80 lakh passengers a day.
The Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government as well as the Western Railway, under whose jurisdiction the Elphinstone Road station falls, scrambled to take every possible measure to decongest the station entrances.
Regular commuters to the station, now rechristened Prabhadevi, say the measures have improved the situation a bit, but more needs to be done to connect the bridges directly to the platforms.
Situated at a stone’s throw from multi-storeyed office buildings in the Lower Parel business district, the erstwhile Elphinstone Road railway station attracts large crowds, especially during peak hours.
Until recently, the station was only served by a foot overbridge built in 1972, much before Mumbai’s famous mill lands were opened up and Lower Parel suddenly grew to be a crowded business district.
Measures taken after the stampede
Immediately after the stampede, the state government requested the Indian Army to construct a new foot overbridge to ease the passenger traffic on the current one.
The bridge, built by the Pine-based Bombay Engineering Group and Centre, (also known as Bombay Sappers, it is a unit of the Army), at a cost of about Rs 8 crore, was opened for use in February.
Commuters say, the bridge is not convenient for most passengers and is mostly used by flower vendors to reach their market on the nearby Senapati Bapat Marg.
“That bridge turns out to be a much longer route for passengers so many don’t use it,” said Umesh Kumar, who polishes shoes at Prabhadevi station and regularly interacts with commuters.
“Flower vendors use it, even those who use to trespass tracks there earlier now use the bridge. The other bridge built has been useful and will be more so once they complete the work of connecting it to the platform here,” Kumar added.
The other bridge that Kumar was referring to is built partially by the Western Railway on the Prabhadevi station side and partially by the Central Railway on the adjacent Parel station side.
Ironically, tenders for the construction of this bridge were issued on the day of the stampede after much delay.
This bridge was opened for commuters in July. It is yet to be connected to the Prabhadevi station directly and work on it is underway.
Shruti Patel, another regular commuter from the Prabhadevi station, said, “The bridges have helped a bit. It’s much less crowded now.
“Half of the crowd that used to be on the old foot overbridge directly goes to the flower market from the bridge. It has helped but not so much,” she added.
Aradhya Gupte, a college student, said the government’s measures seem to have made a difference.
“The crowd has decreased because of the new bridges built by the Indian Army and the railways, but the train crowd is still there. I travel at 11 am for college and I still get a lot of rush in the train,” he said.
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