It was an accident waiting to happen.
With almost five lakh passengers converging almost every day during the summer rush season, the flow of people at the New Delhi Railway Station never ebbs.
The northern railways had plans to decongest New Delhi Railway Station by shifting majority of eastbound trains to the new mega terminal at Anand Vihar.
November 13, 2004: Tragedy struck at the crowded New Delhi railway station when four women and a teenaged girl were killed and 10 others injured in a stampede that broke out on an over-bridge leading to platform No 3. Most passengers were bound for Bihar for the Chhat Puja celebrations. The incident occurred around 2.30 pm when there was huge rush of passengers trying to enter the station through the main over-bridge. While they were coming down the stairs leading to platform No 3, a woman reportedly tripped over a trunk and fell. And within seconds over two-dozen people piled up over each other.
September 28, 2002: Stampede at the Lucknow railway station claimed the lives of 16 Bahujan Samaj Party workers. They were returning after attending a mammoth rally organised by Chief Minister Mayawati. Eyewitnesses said the incident happened when some party workers, while trying to save an old woman who had slipped on the staircase, fell over one another. More than 75,000 people had converged at the station, which has a capacity to hold 12,000 to 15,000 passengers.
But if sources are to be believed, the railways have succumbed to the pressure of the VVIPs living in Lutyen’s Delhi. The decongestion plan has slowed down.
Sources said the VVIPs get a number of important guests who travel by trains and do not want these trains to be shifted to the outskirts of the city.
While the mega terminal at Anand Vihar is ready and operational, the number of passengers at New Delhi railway station has anything but gone down. The Anand Vihar terminal is still under utilised.
Sources added that the Anand Vihar terminal was initially conceptualised to cater to 270 trains every day.
It was proposed that all express and local trains for states such as Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh would terminate and originate at Anand Vihar mega terminal.
More than 3.5 lakh passengers were expected to use the new terminal every day.
Six months since it become operational, only seven trains operate from Anand Vihar station. Northern railways officials said more than 15,000 passengers use this station every day.
Anand Swarup, Northern railway’s chief public relation officer, however, said there was no plan to have 270 trains from Anand Vihar.
“In the last railways budget, it was announced that three trains would be started from Anand Vihar station. Apart from those three trains, we have four additional trains that originate and terminate at Anand Vihar. A number of summer special trains have also been started from Anand Vihar,” he added. Busiest and most crowded
Meanwhile, senior railways officials attributed the rush at the New Delhi station to summer vacations.
“These days the platforms remain highly crowded due to summer vacations. This is a common scene during
every summer after schools announce their holidays,” said divisional railway manager Aswini Lohani.