How CMRL went wrong with access

Members of the differently abled community in Chennai say they are very disappointed with Chennai Metro Rail as they find the stations and trains extremely hard to access and navigate.

“Despite several meetings with CMRL officials, email correspondence, inputs on universal design, photographs, guidelines for standards and other material given to them since December 2011, the end result is practically a denial of service to the differently abled,” said Vaishnavi Jayakumar, member, Disability Rights Alliance (DRA).

The DRA has sent an email and an extensive document detailing the problems they faced during an access audit earlier this month to CMRL, but say as of now, they have had no response.

In addition, members say, despite CMRL’s public commitment to abide by the Central Public Works Department’s guidelines for barrier-free built environments in 2012, this too has not been adhered to.

Accessible toilets:

Main toilet door too heavy to push for some differently abled users, entrance too narrow for wheelchair at some places. Latch to lock the door is too high to access, faucet and flush button also not accessible


Very slippery, making it difficult for those using assistive devices such as crutches and callipers.

Ticketing counters:

Ticket-vending counters too high for wheelchair-users. Fare buttons and cancel buttons and other information buttons on the vending machine should be written in Braille or in a distinct relief pattern

Tactile Access:

Tactile Access – not available uniformly. Do not lead from platform to train; do not lead to toilets at the concourse level

Inside the train:

Standing pole inside train, while useful for people to grab for safety could have been relocated in coach for the differently abled as it acts as a barrier for manoeuvring wheelchair

Automatic fare collection:

Automatic fare collection gates too high for people on wheelchairs. Validation area could have been in the front of the machine instead of on top


Wheelchair-users require bridging device to enter train from platform. Also, as the surfaces of the train and platform are not even, with the train being higher, differently abled users find it very difficult to board. Walking sticks and crutches as well as wheelchair wheels can slip into the gap

Signage: Lack of clear signange inside stations; Lit patchily, uneven lighting glare

Induction loop: Information regarding induction loop facility not displayed prominently

A total of Rs.14,600 crore is the estimated cost of the entire project. “The worst part is, so much money has been spent on this project. Why did recommendations fall on deaf years? The Metro Rail was an opportunity to do things right, and now, expensive changes will have to be made in order to make it more accessible,” said Aiswarya Rao, a differently abled resident who has used the service.

Promises not kept
In 2012, CMRL promised the following to make that stations and coaches of Metro Rail differently abled friendly. Non slippery floors and non glossy surface in stations. Accessible toilets. Ticket issuing window and Ticket Vending Machine with accessible heights. The rakes will be high-floor design with level boarding from platforms. Wheelchair and mobility-impaired boarding shall not require the use of bridging or lifting devices. An official of CMRL said, “After the meeting we had with them few years ago, they wanted to monitor and supervise the construction; that was not feasible. We have built the stations and trains according to the guidelines.”

Sources: DRA documents on CMRL

> and Chennai Metro Rail Ltd.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 1:18:53 pm |