“Welcome. Chennai Airport,” announces a fading greeting painted on the walls of the pedestrian subway. A few hundred metres away, a world-class facility for air passengers is under construction. The pathway leading to the airport from Tirusulam railway station, however, offers passengers nothing but foul smell and dust.
A pedestrian subway built at a cost of nearly Rs. 5 crore has a lift that has not been working since 2009 after rain water flooded it and damaged pumps and other equipment. One end of the subway is also a gathering point for miscreants who consume liquor after dusk. The gut-wrenching smell of urine is the first thing that greets the unsuspecting traveller who enters the subway to access the suburban electric train services of the city.
Air passengers, visitors, employees of government and private agencies at the airport are unhappy over the maintenance of amenities around the airport. “ It is especially punishing for senior citizens who make the mistake of using the subway when its lift is not working,” said Yakub Basha of Vellore District, who unfortunately, was returning to his hometown after missing a flight at the airport.
Once a traveller negotiates the perilous subway and reaches the railway station, she has to climb another 20 steps to get a train ticket getting a journey ticket. “Facilities at Hyderabad and Bengaluru are better. Amenities in Chennai are just alright, but whatever there is, has to be maintained well,” said Vivek Kulkarni, working in a private company in the city.
S.Lakshmanan, an employee in the airport, said young women on their way back home after work are often subject to harassment inside the subway by men who were under the influence of liquor. “My friend and I were witness to a group of flight stewardesses being nearly roughed up three months ago by a couple of drunken men. We chased the men away, but the women were still in a state of shock,” recalled Mr. Kishore.
The pedestrian subway was pitch dark until a week ago. Now, some of the tubelights are functioning and the paper waste has been removed.
The service lane and also the GST Road towards Tambaram is a very risky zone with absolutely no mechanism in place to keep a check on overspeeding. Motorists give scant regard to the traffic signal at the southern end of the railway station.