Perungalathur railway station an open space for tipplers
CHENNAI: Being one of the important railway stations in city suburbs, the Perungalathur Railway Station is an arterial hub that connects several neighbourhoods.
But sadly, it has become a free bar for anti-socials since a Tasmac is just a few steps away from the station. Residents and other commuters have been avoiding the station since drunkards occupy the entire premises.
Around 20 years ago, Perungalathur Railway Station was small with barely 8,000 footfalls/day. But ever since Perungalathur became one of the hotspots in the suburbs, the station is always crowded. The current footfall is over 40,000 in a day during peak hours, and during festival seasons.
Despite the huge footfall, the station doesn’t have even basic amenities and the premises is always crowded with drunkards and other anti-social elements. In 2020, after being named the worst railway station in the country, officials visited the spot and painted the premises.
After a brief colourful display, there have been no developments. The station has 3 platforms, and the ticker counter is located on the first platform.
Passengers from Perungalathur bus stop cross the railway track manually to buy tickets. There’s a subway that was inaugurated 4 years ago but it has also become unusable for commuters, as it’s fully occupied by anti-social elements.
“One evening, when sister was walking on the subway, a man sitting on the floor pulled her dress and tried to misbehave with her,” lamented a resident of Perungalathur. “Many commuters have told me about such men. So, a lot of us have stopped using the subway. We’d rather risk our lives crossing the tracks manually since we feel it’s safer than using the subway.”
Sources said this manual crossing of railway tracks has led to over 50 deaths in the past year in Perungalathur.
Thogh railway authorities said that not all deaths are accidents, commuters and public say the opposite, and urge the railways to take the issue seriously. “We want them to construct a foot-over-bridge so that we can use it for crossing the platforms,” said a commuter.
Girls going to college are afraid to use the railway station and have switched to taking autos or buses and catching the train at Tambaram. “We can’t stand in the station since all seats on the first platform are occupied by alcoholics, drug users and other anti-social elements,” rued one of the girl students.
Commuters have also stated that announcements on arrival and departure of trains were not properly given, and they’ve had to run at the last minute once the train reached the platform.
Problems don’t end here. The station doesn’t have a purified drinking water facility, and restrooms don’t function properly. “The staff is charging triple the price for those who are new to Chennai. Just recently, I saw one of the employees demand Rs 20 from a man who came from the south district,” said a commuter.
If this continues, the footfall in Perungalathur railway station would go very low and railways might be forced to close the station. Jones, from Perungalathur, said, “Safety is the first thing people look at when they travel but in Perungalathur station, there’s none, especially for women”.
When contacted by DT Next, a Southern Railway official said that complaints will be addressed.
“Such issues will be taken up seriously. RPF will be deployed for security in and around the station. The railways will make sure that anti-social activities inside the premises are brought down,” he added.
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Many of us have stopped using the subway. We’d rather risk our lives crossing the tracks manually since we feel it’s safer than using the subway
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— A resident of Perungalathur