At Wadala station, a busy junction on the harbour line where commuters change trains to go to either the eastern or the western suburbs, as soon as a train pulls into the station, commuters get off, rush to the end of the platform, jump on the tracks and cross over to the other platform.
Every day, thousands of commuters risk their lives to catch the connecting trains, especially during the peak hours. The reason: the foot over-bridges (FOBs) at the station are so narrow that it takes a long time to climb up and walk the length of the FOB, by which time commuters have missed one or more connecting trains.
The Railways may have upgraded Wadala’s status from station to terminus, but it has not bothered to upgrade the basic infrastructure. “When any train terminates on platform number 2 or 3, there are thousands of people swarming the platforms and trying to use the FOB,” said Subhash Gupta, president of Yatri Sangh.
The problem with FOBs is not exclusive to Wadala station. At several stations across the city such as Dadar, Lower Parel, Mumbai Central, Kandivli, Kurla and Thane, it’s a struggle to get on or off the FOBs in peak hours.
For instance, at Dadar station, on the western line, at the south-end of platform four, the FOB is unbelievably narrow. During peak hours it’s almost a stampede at Thane station, said commuters. “Until the new FOB is ready at Thane station, the situation won’t improve,” said Madhu Kotian, president of Mumbai Pravasi Sangh.
At stations such as Curry Road, Parel, Lower Parel and Kopar, the issue is different. As there is only one FOB at these stations, the ramps are always congested, which makes it dangerous.
“Commuters who alight from trains are rushing to go out even as others are rushing to catch trains. During the morning and evening peak hours, the situation on ramps is very dangerous,” said a station master from the Central Railway, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Other than being narrow, commuters complain that the tiles on the FOBs are slippery and that the height of the steps on the FOB staircase is inconsistent, both of which lead to accidents. Dadar, Mahim, Chinchpokli, Bandra, Borivli, Thane, Parel and Elphinstone Road all have these problems.
WR officials said work on many new FOBS is in progress and these will offer relief from congestion. Vidhyadhar Malegonkar, the CR chief public relations officer, said: “There are 27 FOBs that have been sanctioned and they are in various stages of implementation.”