CHENNAI: The wide gap between platforms and train footboard at several suburban railway stations is putting the elderly and persons with disabilities at risk. While suburban and MRTS rail networks are recently getting much higher number of commuters, the wide gap makes boarding the train coaches a trying exercise.
As per railway board norms, the gap between station platforms and the coach’s footboard in suburban rail networks must be within 15 cm. But in many stations in the city, the gap is as much as 30 cm to 40 cm.
Railway officials Express spoke to acknowledged the wider gaps in a few stations and said it was mainly because of the curved tracks near these stations. The wider gap was to prevent friction between trains and the platforms. However, since trains halt at stations for hardly 30 to 40 seconds, this is putting the elderly and persons with disabilities at peril.
“My 62-year-old wife and myself slipped from the train twice at Chennai Egmore in the last two months. I have registered the same in the complaint book at Chennai Egmore as well. It’s extremely difficult to board the train carrying a bag on one hand and with a walking stick on the other. The height of the platform must be increased,” said 68-year-old S Chakkarapani of Broadway who is also suffering from disabilities.
Some of the stations where the gaps are dangerously wide are Park, Egmore, Tambaram, Guindy, Mambalam and Pallavaram. Most of these stations see a footfall of over 30,000 commuters daily.
The railway board norms mandate that platforms of suburban stations must be 84 cm in height, in contrast to the 76 cm standard height of the other railway stations. A few months ago, the railway board authorised railway zones to increase the height of platforms up to 920 mm at stations which has higher footfalls for convenience of passengers.
Chennai divisional railway officials claim that height of suburban station platforms has been raised to match the norms in the railway safety manuals. But the norms could not be complied with only in a few stations as the tracks were curved near these stations. If platform heights are increased, the speed of trains must be reduced to avoid friction. The coaches generally swing a little when moving on a curved path and hence chances of friction with the platforms are higher.
“A proposal to increase the height of suburban platforms including Egmore and Park has been sent to Chennai division and the technical feasibility being studied,” said an official. Officials of operational wing of Chennai division said if the platform height is increased at Egmore and Chennai Park, the speed of the trains would have to be reduced from 15 to 10 km affecting punctuality. “And, in the event of any failure of maintenance of tracks in platform during different climatic conditions, the coach will hit the platforms,”added the officer.
The platform floor and coach floor are of the same height at all metro stations in Chennai.
Chennai division caters to 10 lakh passengers a day in 4 suburban sections with 580 services in Chennai-Tambaram-Chengalpattu, Chennai-Arakkonam, Chennai-Gummidipundi and Beach-Velachery MRTS sections.
Between platform and the trains
Railway norms stipulates the minimum of 15 cm (150 mm) gap between platform edge
and train coach floor for suburban section
Majority of Chennai sub urban stations has the gap of about
30 cm to 40 cm
EMU trains stops only for
30 to 40 seconds
Suburban section platforms to be heightened at 840 mm from the rail track
Recently railway board athorised to increase it upto 920 mm in selected sections
Operational wing of railways fells, if the platform height increased at Egmore and Chennai Park, the speed of the trains would be reduced to 15 to 10 km, thereby affects punctuality
Chennai suburban section caters about 10 lakhs passengers a day in four suburban sections with 580 services a day
Platform floor and coach floor is on the same height at all metro stations in Chennai
According to 2011 population census, the state has nearly 71 lakhs population is in the age of 60 and above
There were about 16 lakh disabled in the state in 2011