Begin typing your search...

Off track: No amenities for passengers at rly stations

Continuing the reportage on the state of affairs at railway stations, especially the smaller ones used by EMU passengers, DT Next finds a number of issues – including basic ones

Off track: No amenities for passengers at rly stations

A disabled man struggling to climb the stairs at the Tambaram railway station

CHENNAI: Pipe for drinking water without taps. Toilets that are not functional, including some that remain locked. Very high foot over bridges (FOB) that force the aged and the disabled to climb endless stairs. Escalators that do not function. Broken platforms that pose a threat to passengers, especially the visually impaired. Inadequate number of ticket counters.

Even as the Union Railway Ministry touts projects like Amrit Bharat scheme to upgrade passenger infrastructure at stations - under which 15 stations in the Chennai division have been chosen - most stations here, including termini like Egmore and Tambaram, lack even the basic amenities for the commuters.

Commuters carrying luggage struggling to climb the stairs at the Tambaram railway station

“Most of the FOBs are very high, there are no lifts, and escalators are not friendly for long-distance passengers who carry luggage. In some areas, the FOB construction work is progressing at a snail’s pace,” said Dayanand Krishnan, a social activist. For instance, the work on the FoB at Tambaram Sanatorium station started in 2020. Three years later, it is far from complete.

Escalators or lifts are available only at a few stations. But their existence does not mean they are useful for people. A case in point is the escalator at Egmore railway station, the second-most important terminus after MGR Chennai Central. It has remained out of use for more than six months. Regular commuters also complained that the lift, too, is often non-functional. Passengers said the escalator at Tambaram station, another terminus, routinely falls into disrepair.


Lack of drinking water facilities is another constant complaint from passengers, with taps broken or even non-existent, or no supply. At some stations on the Beach-Tambaram route, only one ticket counter is functional, forcing the people coming from the other side to cross. At Pazhavanthangal station, for example, one counter has remained closed for more than two years.

There are CCTVs but only inside the station, while the rest of the premises do not have them. Aishwarya S of Nanganallur recalled an instance when she visited the station at 4.30 am, only to find it isolated. “There must be some measures to ensure the safety of women who travel at odd times like that, “ she said.

Illustration: Saai

Add other complaints like toilets remaining closed (Mambalam and Nungambakkam stations are cases in point), the stations paint a picture of neglect when it comes to passenger amenities.

While such issues cause inconveniences to the commuters, they border on being dangerous to those with disabilities, who have been urging the railways to ensure granite flooring without polished surfaces, standard tactile platform edge warning for the visually impaired, level boarding, ramped foot-over bridge access to all platforms, toilets with bi-lateral wheelchair transfers, and multimodal communication in the railway stations, said Vaishnavi Jayakumar from the Disability Rights Alliance.

“There must be safe access to platforms but the bollards don’t permit wheelchair users to go inside. The hearing impaired also face communication issues,” she added.

K Raghuraman, Tamil Nadu State member of the advisory board for the differently abled said none of the facilities at stations are constructed for the benefit of disabled passengers. Broken platforms, slippery flooring, and lack of seating arrangements for PwDs are some of the issues he highlighted.

When contacted, divisional railway manager B Vishwanath Eerya said the national carrier was taking several steps to improve passenger amenities, including providing lifts, and escalators at major stations, installing CCTVs, ramps, disabled-friendly toilets, Braille system and separate tiles for the visually impaired, etc.

“The Railways is also taking steps to ensure the safety of passengers, including women, and is addressing grievances,” he said, adding that all stations would be modernised in the coming days.

Next Story