Most foot overbridges at rail stations in a state of disuse

CHENNAI, JUNE 16. Foot overbridges in many railway stations are in a state of disuse either because most commuters prefer to cross the track to reach the other side or the overbridges are in disrepair.

At the Ambattur railway station, the foot overbridge has only the steel structure at many parts. The pathway of the overbridge is corroded, making it difficult for people to use it.

The height of the overbridge too was a deterrent for people to use the facility, though it was constructed on public request.

Only now, the railway authorities have shown interest in repairing the 50-odd years-old structure.

The foot overbridge was closed to pedestrians for the past three months due to repair work.

Railway officials said they hoped to complete the work in a month. The entire exercise was likely to cost about Rs. four lakhs.

While in some stations such as Tambaram, the overbridges were effectively used, some others such as the ones in Chromepet are rarely used as very few preferred climbing up and down the flurry of stairs.

This raises a question on the investments made by the Southern Railway towards public safety.

A new foot overbridge is coming up at Thirumullaivoyal railway station at a cost of Rs. 27 lakhs.

However, these facilities did not seem to be people-friendly, going by the number of people using them.

Most of the railway passengers preferred to dart across the railway tracks, overlooking the element of risk involved in it.

There have been quite a few incidents of people being run over by trains while crossing.

``We prefer to cross the tracks as climbing up the stairs of the foot overbridge is tiring. We, however, use it when any train is stranded on the tracks or a mail train is passing by,'' said a commuter.

Railway officials said the public always preferred a subway. But its construction involved very high investment and a lot of technical intricacies such as drainage, lighting and structural stability as it had to support the rail traffic.

A section of the officials felt that the public could be discouraged from crossing the tracks.

While it was practically impossible to cordon off the tracks, deterrence could come only in the form of strict enforcement.

Mobile teams could be set up to make surprise visits to the suburban railway stations and hefty fines levied on those crossing tracks, some suggested.