The railways' ambitious plan to convert a century-old British era tunnel at the Old Delhi railway station into a subway for passengers might take a couple of years to complete. Construction work, which was slated to take off in February, has not been started.
In January, the Delhi division of northern railways had with much fanfare announced that to decongest the overcrowded over-bridges at the Old Delhi station, the 103-year-old tunnel, which was being used to transport parcels and goods, would be thrown open for the public after making necessary changes.
The Old Delhi railway station receives a footfall of 4 lakh passengers every day and to connect all 18 platforms, there are only two over-bridges. The danger of a stampede during peak traffic time always looms large.
To tackle the problem, the railways had planned to open the 70-meter-long tunnel of the heritage station building for passengers by installing lifts and escalators at all platforms.
"The work couldn't take off due to shortage of funds and there are other technical reasons as well. Seepage of water into the tunnel from tracks is a major challenge. Digging every platform to install lifts is again a troublesome process," said a senior railway officer.
The tunnel, with a width of 3.14 metres and a height of 2.10 metres, was also to be made air conditioned.
A 10-month deadline was set in January for the project. "Not even a brick has been moved. To stop the seeping of water from tracks, a fresh concrete surface has to be laid and it's a time taking procedure which will also affect train movement," the officer added.