Designs for the proposed metro stations, some of which were recently reviewed by experts, fall short in terms of linkages with the adjacent areas, facility for smooth drop off points, parking, and provision for vertical movement. These deficiencies will impede efficient functioning of stations and affect transportation around the station areas, feel experts.
Redesigning the station entry points, repositioning the lifts for better circulation, improving service roads that bring vehicular traffic to the station are some of the measures suggested. Access to stations has been determined by the extent of land available rather than convenience, say sources familiar with the design process. For instance, the design for the Ashok Nagar station, proposed near Ashok Pillar, has better access from the Police Training College side, while the other entry point near the Udhayam Theatre complex has been constrained by the limited space available. The need to integrate this station with transportation projects such as the proposed Bus Rapid Transit system has been emphasised.
In the case of Vadpalani station, where a flyover has been proposed beneath the elevated track for an easy cross over of the Jawharlal Nehru Road and Arcot Road junction, the drop off points on the service road near the station have been found deficient in terms of its alignment, and measures have been suggested to improve them.
“Stations have been carefully located after taking various factors into consideration. They have been configured in relation to the adjacent areas. It must be appreciated that Chennai Metro Rail is one of the few infrastructure projects that has acquired minimum private land and we have done the best given the extent of land available.” explained K. Rajaraman, Managing Director, Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL).
On the process being followed, Mr. Rajaram said: “We have so far focussed on the design of stations and now we are looking at the areas around them to identify parking spaces, develop skywalks near stations such as Ashok Nagar and improve pedestrian linkages in areas such as Vadapalani.
To start with, CMRL would take up the Vadapalani station, which will be the first of the stations to be built, to prepare an integrated plan. This plan will then serve as a model for other station areas. For this purpose, the CMRL has taken the initiative to form a group comprising the Chennai Corporation, the Department of Highways and the CMDA. “With the cooperation of various agencies we will prepare and implement a well worked out integrated plan,” he added.
Chennai Metro Rail awarded the design of ten elevated stations at the cost of about Rs. 230 crore to a construction consortium in June. The consortium appointed an international consultant company to design the stations, which, in turn, has outsourced a few station projects to a local firm to design.
Though a special cell has been formed in the CMDA for integrating Metro stations with the adjacent areas, sources at the CMDA say there has been only one inception meeting with Chennai Metro Rail so far and they are not aware of the proposed designs.