BENGALURU: On a cloudy weekday, Siddachara waited at the back entrance of Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Railway station (KSR) while carrying heavy luggage. His wife Sowbhagya was not far behind, but huffing and puffing and taking multiple breaks while climbing down the steep stairs of the foot over-bridge connecting to platform 10.
The couple, who travel from Mysuru to Bengaluru to visit their daughter, have to climb up the stairs from the train platform, and down again to reach the road, before walking a few hundred metres on a rocky road to reach City Railway Metro Station on the purple line.“I come to the city twice a week. I have been following the news and cannot wait for the completion of the foot over-bridge connecting the railway station and the Metro station. It is really tiring to climb up and down, especially on days we have heavy luggage,” says Siddachara.
The City Railway Metro Station has been functional since 2016, and the foot over-bridge was to be completed by October 2016. Dogged with delays due to improper coordination between the two agencies (Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd - BMRCL - and the Bengaluru division of the South Western Railway) as per transport experts, and we still see construction going on two years later.
Announced in April 2016, the bridge was meant to benefit commuters in seamless changing between trains and the Metro. While there is a foot over-bridge within KSR, it does not connect to the Metro station. The brunt of various authorities developing transport modes independently is borne by commuters, who struggle to move from one point to another.
Tough task for senior citizens
KSR and Yeshwanthpur Railway Station are hubs for trains to originate and depart. When the green line was introduced in 2014, connecting Yeshwanthpur, commuters were pleased. However, their joy was short-lived when they saw that the existing foot over-bridge above the road, connecting both entrances of Yeshwanthpur Metro Station, did not integrate with its railway station counterpart.
This means that one would have to get off the Metro, drag their luggage for 200 metres, climb up the stairs at the entrance of Yeshwanthpur Railway Station and climb a steeper flight of stairs to reach the railway’s foot over-bridge, which is the only way one can get to the desired platform. It looks more exhausting than it sounds, especially when senior citizens and the disabled are seen asking passersby for help lifting their suitcases at the entrance.
Ashraya, who lives near RV Road Metro Station, says, “I went to Hassan with my two children. I did not get my father along this time because he is handicapped, and climbing these many stairs is not possible. If they connected the railway foot over-bridge with the one built by the Metro, we would be able to drag our baggage on a trolley easily, and directly enter the Metro.”
For Sumita Singh, the situation is similar. “I live in Yelachenahalli, and when the Metro came here, it became easy for me to catch trains to Hyderabad. Yeshwanthpur Railway Station is the closest to me, but if they had connected the two-foot over-bridges, it would have been much easier for me. I can still manage, but my aged parents cannot,” she says.
‘Station integration planning must happen early on’
Transport expert Sanjeev Dyamnavar, from Praja RAAG advocacy group, has been filing RTIs every now and then, following up on the status of both the foot over-bridges. “In 2014, Metro officials said they were discussing with the railways about extending the Yeshwanthpur foot over-bridge. An RTI response a few weeks ago reiterated the same. How long will they just go on discussing?” Sanjeev questions. “Neither party is interested in spending money. The railways agreed to waive off the rent, as it is their land the BMRCL will be building on. Their condition is that the BMRCL must fund the project, which the latter does not want to do,” he informs, adding that an RTI response from the railway division says they have not received a proposal for a foot over-bridge from the BMRCL.
On the importance of foot over-bridges, Sanjeev says that Yeshwanthpur and KSR are terminal and passing-through stations for trains. People from as far as Kanakapura, Mysuru Road and Whitefield come here, making them crowded round-the-clock. “BMRCL, Railways and even the Urban Development Department does not plan station integration beforehand while making the Metro’s Detailed Project Report (DPR). If they integrated these bridges early on, commuters need not worry about traffic jams or spend hefty amounts on cabs and autos.” He adds, “Authorities are least sensitive to passenger movement. Not once have I heard the BMRCL or railway authorities say that they want to build a foot over-bridge and require funds. When we ask for it, they question the need for it!”