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(ARCHIVE) Vol. Vol. XVIII No. 19, january 16-31, 2009

Here’s how we can
improve Central Station

(The view from Madras Musings)

The Railway authorities have asked the public to suggest how civic amenities at Central Station could be improved. This is a very proactive effort and is laudable and it is to be hoped that commuters and passengers will offer their recommendations. At the same time, the public should also realise that it has a responsibility towards keeping the station clean. We at Madras Musings, who view Central as an important public amenity and also a heritage structure, offer the ­following suggestions for consideration by the railways and the public:

The Central Station

1. Regulated use of the open space in front of the station: Can there be a better segregation of traffic into and out of the station? At present only the buses have a separate route to themselves. All the other vehicles, taxis, passenger cars and autos, are free to use both entrances (Wall Tax Road and Moore Market) and this causes considerable chaos. Can taxis and autos use only the Moore Market entrance and the private cars the Wall Tax Road entrance?

2. Can we have a more meaningful parking facility? The space in front of the reservation complex (once the site of Moore Market) is a classic example of wasted space with very inefficient methods of parking. It is also large enough for a multi-level parking facility to come up. In addition, there has been talk for years about part of the Central Jail campus (now empty) being made into a parking facility for both Central Station and the General Hospital. Can this be implemented, with underground access to both the hospital and the station?

3. Can we have a more organised pre-paid service from the station? At present, the pre-paid taxi service booth is hardly visible from the station’s main entrance, tucked as it is away near the new concourse. Not many passengers are even aware of a pre-paid taxi service. The pre-paid auto booth is easily accessed, but the queue system here is totally unfriendly involving standing on an uneven and narrow footpath which is most dangerous for  young and old alike. And can the Railway police monitor the behaviour of the auto and taxi drivers, who accost the passengers even as they come out of the station? Can this soliciting be banned completely, so that all passengers need only to access the pre-paid booths? Can the two booths be moved inside the station building so that passengers are not harassed after they come out of the station?

4. Can we have better signage? At present it is extremely difficult to identify where toilets, first aid centres, water supply points and restaurants are inside the station precinct. This is not because of poor signage, but due to an excess of it, all of which are in different sizes and shapes thereby causing confusion.

5. Can the station be made friendly to those who have physical challenges? At present there are two ramps at the extreme ends of the station, but beyond that there is nothing. True, there are now battery operated vehicles to ferry passengers, but there is no facility to help the disabled get into compartments. Also there is no indication if there are any elevators to take such passengers to the first floor of the station building where there are waiting rooms.

6. Can water founts be ­located at the sides of the ­station concourse and not right in front of the platforms? The presence of these water founts blocks easy entry and exit, especially in the older platforms (Nos 1 to 8), and makes the entire area  wet and ­extremely messy. This is also downright dangerous.

7. Can passenger movement be regulated? Can we prevent passengers, vagrants and others, from sleeping in the concourse and on the corridors?  At present, they obstruct passenger and goods movements in the station.

8. Can we have self-help kiosks that will help us in locating services? At present, there is an enquiry desk that is located near the entrance. If there were more electronic kiosks at various places in the station, it would be more helpful.

9. Can there be uniformity in stall and shop layouts? This will not only improve the aesthetics of the station but also help in easy identification of services.

10. Can we have the television screens removed? These at present only feature some advertisements and add to the general noise pollution. They also encourage people to stand at various places and stare at them, thereby blocking the movement of other passengers.

11. Can there be better cleanliness? This applies to passengers and the authorities. While the latter can get their staff to do a better job when it comes to cleaning the place, passengers must learn not to litter the concourse, the platforms and the rail tracks. At present, what we see is a high degree of passenger callousness which is responsible for most of the mess in the stations. Passengers need to be educated on the need for cleanliness and, if necessary, stiff fines need to be imposed. It is amazing that the very same people who mess up stations in India are on their best beha­viour when travelling abroad. This needs to be looked into and if such mindsets can be changed, the railways would have won their battle.

The railways have an email facility –
Those interested can send in their suggestions there.

The regular mail address is The Chief Engineer, Metropolitan Transport Project (Railways), Southern Railway, Egmore, Chennai 600008.


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Improve Central Station...
If Bogota can do it...
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