CHENNAI: In a significant move, the Southern Railway is planning to demolish a portion of platform 4 at the St Thomas Mount station where five rail passengers, who travelled on the footboard of an overcrowded local train, were killed after hitting the concrete fence on June 24. The move is aimed at realigning the 4th track thereby increasing the distance between track and the concrete fence. The works are expected to pave the way for resuming the fast locals in the section.
“The concrete fence that divides platform 3 and 4 (fast lines) cannot be removed as pillars of rail overbridge connecting platform 2 and 3 are laid along the fence. Hence, it is proposed to trim the width of platform 4 to pull the tracks towards platform so as to increase the space between track and fence,” a highly placed official from the Southern Railway told Express. He added that during the track realignment, curves at track changeover at Thomas Mount and a few others stations are also proposed to be straightened.
“We are awaiting a formal approval from the Commissioner of Railway Safety to reduce the platform width,” added the officer. The decision was a fallout of an inquiry and public hearing conducted by the Southern Circle Railway Safety Commissioner K A Manoharan, according to sources.
On June 24 rail passengers who were hanging on the footboard of a fully crowded Chennai Beach - Thirumalpur suburban train hit the concrete fence between platform 3 and 4 at St Thomas Mount when the train was operated in the fourth line. In this accident, five passengers who fell on the tracks were killed and four others injured. The accident had forced the Railways to cancel the fast locals operated in the Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu sections.
Since then the railways had been under extreme pressure to resume services on fast lines as passengers in Chengalpattu and nearby stations are protesting to resume the fast locals. According to official records, the SR caters for about 5.5 lakh commuters in the Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu section, out of whom 2 lakh are between Tambaram and Chengalpattu.
On Sunday the SR commenced the drive to demolish concrete walls in accident-prone places along the Chennai Beach-Chengalpattu section. So far, concrete walls at Meenambakkam, Pazhavanthangal and Saidapet have been removed. A proposal to remove walls at a few more stations is also being discussed.
“We are working on the fast track to remove the obstacles in accident-prone spots to resume the fast locals,” added the official.
On June 24, five passengers of overcrowded local train fell down after hitting the fence
On June 30 and July 1, the Commissioner of Railway Safety conducted an inquiry and public hearing
Concrete walls at Pazhavanthangal, Meenambakkam and Saidapet demolished
Concrete wall that divides platform 3 and 4 cannot be removed as the pillar of ROB is laid along the wall
Reducing the width of platform 4 being discussed
Southern Railway awaits CRS approval to commence the works
The decision is crucial as the move would enable the resumption of fast locals