The Ernakulam Junction railway station may be among the few major stations in the country which has a run-down and unimpressive look.
Though a coat of paint was given recently and attempts are being made to clean the premises, the amenities within the station are poor. It requires commuter-friendly enquiry counters manned by trained personnel who know Malayalam – both at the main entrance and on the eastern entry.
The proposal to augment passenger amenities was among the numerous proposals that were made to elevate the station to ‘international standards’. Consecutive railway budgets reiterated the promise of renovating the station, but little moved on the ground. The railways has not even taken over from the GCDA the multi-storeyed building on the eastern entry which could be used as waiting rooms and also to accommodate many branches of the agency that now function out of crammed rooms.
The station has just six platforms, but not all are roofed. The sixth platform has no roof at all, while a few platforms are not fully roofed. Commuters have to brave rain and sunshine, while waiting for their train.
The number of chairs at platforms too is limited, while platform six has none. The public announcement system is inaudible in many platforms, while the fans do not work in many places.
No platform indication board
Even worse, commuters, including senior citizens and handicapped people, who arrive at the station’s eastern entry that borders its sixth platform, have to walk all the way up to platform one to see the board that displays the platform that trains call at. They have to then walk back to their respective platforms. The railways has not installed a board at the eastern entry, despite protests from passengers.
This forces many people to occupy the limited space on the foot overbridge till their train calls at the station, causing chaos on the bridge.
The sole food plaza at the station is encountering acute space crunch. “There is no alternative eatery on the premises and commuters have to crowd near tables to get a vacant seat. The station also needs bigger waiting halls, toilets and more water coolers,” sources said.
The entry point to the station too is crammed, since two concrete pieces reduce the width at the gate which is the sole entry and exit.
“A good share of funds earmarked for Kerala in the railway budget is unspent because of the inordinate delay in rail-doubling and other works. These funds can ideally be used to augment amenities at railway stations,” he said.
He added that many MPs and others are focused on seeking more stops for long-distance trains, knowing fully well that this will further slow down the already slow pace of trains passing through Kerala.
The Ernakulam Town railway station, though less crowded, too is awaiting better amenities. The Government Railway Police (GRP) have for long been demanding a better office since it now operates from an old and ill-maintained building.