After Mumbai bridge collapse, CR, WR shut FoBs; commuters hassled
The Central and Western Railways, in a series of steps taken in the aftermath of the foot overbridge (FoB) collapse in March at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Station (CSMT), have started shutting down bridges across railway stations to either repair or reconstruct them.
However, the railways has not provided commuters alternate routes out of the stations. Passengers’ associations have approached the railways, pointing out how the closures are leading to long queues and congestion.
The Himalaya Bridge at CSMT came crashing down on peak hour traffic on March 14. The tragedy killed six people and injured 31, and put the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Railways under pressure to re-check hundreds of overbridges across the city.
As part of that action, the railways has closed overbridges at Vikhroli, Bhandup, Dombivli, Kurla, Vile Parle, Malad and Dadar railway stations. It will entirely rebuild the bridges at Vikhroli, Bhandup, Dombivli and Kurla, which is likely to take a minimum of six months. The remaining bridges will be repaired, work that is expected to last at least four months.
“The railways are abruptly shutting down bridges across stations. It takes commuters 20 minutes to make their way out,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatra Parishad, an NGO working for the welfare of passengers. As a result of the closures, other bridges at these stations are getting overcrowded.
Commuters pointed out the dangers of a stampede, especially during peak hours.
The railways maintain they had to instantly shut down some bridges as a safety measure. “The bridges were examined and those requiring urgent repairs were closed. We don’t want to risk the life of passengers,” said a senior Central railway official, who did not want to be named. Gupta said commuters acknowledged the need for safety. “But, the railways should have created routes to direct people out.” For now, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has posted more staff to manage crowds on FoBs.
At Kurla station, where two bridges have been shut, 35 additional personnel monitor queues.