Pune: An Elphinstone Road like tragedy is a real possibility at Pune station as one of the three foot overbridges (FOBs) attracts huge crowds and its narrow width often cannot accommodate them. The rush often leads to pickpocketing and harassment of people by criminal elements.
Two other FOBs, including one inaugurated last year, remain underutilised due to their location and ease of access. Rail users have been demanding that the width of the main FOB be increased, but they have fallen on deaf ears.
Currently, Pune station has three FOBs, one is near the parcel office, which connects platform number one to six, second connect the ticket counter building and the Raja Bahadur Mill Road parking while the third connects platforms one to three. Most express trains arrive and depart from platforms two, three and four-five.
During peak hours, railway officials fail to control crowds on the FOBs, claim passengers. Passengers also claim that there are no RPF staff seen on the bridge.
Harsha Shah of Railway Pravasi Group said there was a need to broaden the old FOBs. “Of the three FOBs, the one built in the 19th century is often used by passengers. The one that starts from parcel office is hardly used because it is difficult for passengers to reach it as the approach road is blocked by parcel bundles laying haphazardly. Another FOB, which was inaugurated last year, has failed to attract passengers as it only connects three platforms. The only solution is to broaden the old FOB,” said Shah. She said during the evening, when trains arrive from or depart toward northern destinations, every day a stampede like situation occurs. “If the issue is not taken care of immediately, one fears a Mumbai-like tragedy may happen,” said Shah.
A passenger’s post on twitter states: “Please open your eyes, alerted you many times about Pune station single bridge...be proactive.” On this tweet, BK Dadabhoy, DRM Pune replied, “Please look into the matter @rfpcrpa.” The person retweeted and said “This is a standard reply you give for more than a year. Are you waiting for a tragedy to happen?”
Rly takes precautionary measures: Officials
According to railway officials, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has been deputed to control crowds on FOBs. “We have deputed RPF staff on the bridge. During the peak hours from 3 pm to 7.30 pm, the number of RPF staff has also been increased. Most passengers wait on the bridge. The RPF tries to move them. But sometimes passengers do not listen as they don’t know on which platform their train would arrive. So, we have already set up a display board on the FOB entry at the Raja Bahadur Mill Road parking side. Passengers see their train timing and platform and they move towards their platform. Everything is monitored on CCTV. RPF officials keep a watch on the movement of passengers over the bridge,” said Manoj Jhawar, Public Relation Officer, Pune rail division.
“Soon, the new FOB will connect to the old FOB, for which girders are already in place. This FOB will also have two escalators, one on platform number 6 and another on platform number 1. It will also have a lift, which will open on platforms no 2-3 and 4-5. There will also be a skywalk, which will connect all FOBs from the Raja Bahadur Mills Road,” he added.