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Train of thought

mumbai Updated: Oct 06, 2009 01:23 IST
Snehal Rebello

Until a year ago, Kiran Mehta (48) would board the Churchgate-bound train from Platforms 1 or 2 at Borivli station. It would ensure him a seat on his daily journey to Marine Lines.

Last December, Mehta was forced to change his routine after two new platforms — numbers 7 and 8 — were opened. With no Churchgate-bound trains leaving from his regular platforms, it would take him 10 minutes to walk the kilometre-long stretch to Platform 8 where his train now departs from.

“There are times when I miss the train by seconds. It’s frustrating,” said Mehta, who has a jewellery shop at Zaveri Bazaar.

Mehta is now forced to board a Churchgate-bound local from Virar from a different platform, but a seat is no longer assured.

“I often miss trains because of the time it takes from getting from one platform to another. I am always late for class,” grumbled Dhara Mehta (21), a final-year engineering student who travels to Santacruz for her coaching class.

The railways may be a Central Government undertaking, but more than half the 3,00,812 voters in Borivli use trains every day. And the new platforms have changed the way they travel — often for the worse. They want whoever is elected as the MLA to get the rail timetable modified.

In March, angry commuters blocked a train from leaving Platform 8 after it arrived there without a prior announcement.

“We want Platform 1 dedicated to trains originating from Borivli. There should be a fixed timetable for Platform 8,” said Mehta.

In Borivli, railway facilities can determine whether a candidate wins or loses. In previous elections, promises of an easier commute were a major factor in getting Ram Naik (Bharatiya Janata Party) and actor Govinda (Congress) getting elected as MPs.

Three-time MLA Gopal Shetty promises to liaison with railways and the Centre on rail facilities, saying, “I will work towards modifying the timetable. Platform 8 will soon have better connectivity; the work order has been allotted.”

There has been progress in this constituency in the last five years — from new roads and gardens, malls and multiplexes.

But the electoral road leads through Borivli station and development on the road outside has been sluggish.

During peak hour, it’s chaos with rickshaws, hawkers and commuters jostling for space. “It’s a frustrating walk back home making sure I don’t bump into people,” said Rukmini Jain, a banker who resides five minutes away from the station but takes 15 minutes to cover the distance.