For a commuter on the city’s suburban electric trains, a drink of water would take the edge off the dog days of summer.
However, most of the stations are marked by the lack of supply of safe, protected drinking water. ‘Bring your own water’, commuters feel, is the message conveyed by the Southern Railway administration.
“The Southern Railway makes a lot of money by renting out space in railway stations for advertisement hoardings,” said G.P. Sarathy, a former Central government employee, alighting from a train at Vandalur.
He added, “The least they can do is provide safe, protected and cool drinking water to commuters during summer.”
Southern Railway officials were unable to part with information on the revenue earned, but sources said, the sum should be substantial considering the number of hoardings across all suburban stations.
Most stations in dire straits
A visit to each of the 13 railway stations between Guindy and Guduvanchery in the south revealed a far from satisfactory situation.
In Tambaram railway station, the contractor of the vegetarian light refreshment (VLR) stall has provided a stainless steel drum of water for commuters.
In Tambaram Sanatorium and Pallavaram, too, water has been made available near the VLR stalls.
However, in Chromepet, Perungalathur, Vandalur and Urapakkam, not a drop of water is available. The water taps and the little basins supporting them are mini reservoirs of refuse.
In Tirusulam, there is a dysfunctional water cooler, which only produces a meagre trickle of warm water from its tap. But the overhead water tank on top of the building that houses the ticket counter is perennially overflowing with water. In Meenambakkam, there is a public tap near the kiosk.
At Pazhavanthangal, the water cooler that supplies cold water takes many commuters by surprise. . However, in Guindy, the water cooler, like the ones in Chromepet and Guduvanchery among others, has not been working.
In St. Thomas Mount, a private contractor fills the overhead water tank and water is made available from a tap. A private operator stall sells pure, reverse osmosis treated water at Park railway station at Rs. 6 for two litres. Commuters are required to bring their own bottles. This facility could be extended to all stations, starting with the important ones on a trial basis, said K. Chandran, a commuter.
“The lack of adequate drinking water has been a problem ever since the conversion of metre guage lines to broad guage ones. Commuters boarding electric trains at Perungalathur every morning after arriving by long distance trains especially face a problem. We have given many representations to the Southern Railway, but there has been no improvement,” said R.A. Mukunthan of Perungalathur–Paranur Rail Commuters Association.
During a recent interaction, a senior official of Southern Railway said that a survey had been conducted on amenities in the city’s railway stations.
It was determined that they were all satisfactory and that in some stations, the quality of amenities was much more than required, he said.