Railway stations in Mumbai escalating into a new reality

With the railways kickstarting the process of getting six-meter high escalators for Vikhroli station, the ambitious Rs2.7 crore project for the city’s suburban railway stations is finally becoming a reality.

The tenders for the escalator at Vikhroli will be opened by September-end. Besides Vikhroli, the railways plan to install escalators at 30 city stations, including Dadar, Kurla, Borivli, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Kalyan.

While Indians are used to using escalators in malls, public places and metro rail stations, like in New Delhi, it is probably for the first time in recent years that these hi-tech devices will be used in an open environment in Mumbai.

Though commuters, including the dabbawalas, fisherfolk, women commuter bodies and passenger associations, have largely welcomed the decision, each one of them wants the escalators to be customised to their needs.

A few commuters are also worried that there could be a stampede with the kind of undisciplined crowd at our stations.

“Will escalators work at our stations where there is chaos and a huge number of commuters always in a hurry? There could be a stampede and one would have to be very careful with them, especially women wearing sarees. They also require a cleaner surrounding as compared to the filthy stations at present and need to be protected from harsh weather and vandalism. Eventually, I am sure they would become dysfunctional and be used as staircases,” said Shilpa Mehta, a Western Railway commuter.

But transport experts believe that escalators at railway stations are the need of the hour for faster mass transit.

“We cannot slowdown due to such fears. It is a welcome sign and the railways should have got them much earlier. The bridges will always remain there, but escalators would help many, especially senior citizens and the disabled,” said Arun Mokashi, a transport specialist with the World Bank.

“When upgrading the infrastructure, initially there would be problems. But we could always work out solutions and monitor them or put in place some gadget that would help,” suggested Mokashi, who was the key person in reviving the transport infrastructure in Afghanistan after the war. He is at present leading an Afro-Indian team of specialists in Zanzibar to improve land, air and maritime transportation services there.


Published in: on August 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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