MUMBAI: LokmanyaTilak Terminus, considered to be the city’s worst face presented to a visitor, is on track for a facelift. Central Railway has decided to build a travelator to link LTT and Kurla suburban railway station, to ease commuters’ woes.
CR plans to initiate the bidding process for the project after the Santa Cruz-Chembur Link Road, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, is opened. LTT is considered to be the city’s most inaccessible station because of its poor road and suburban rail connectivity and a large number of auto and taxi drivers outside it who are infamous for fleecing and even assaulting commuters.
CR’s divisional railway manager Mukesh Nigam said, “We plan to build a 700m-long moving walkway to connect LTT to Kurla station. Passengers will then be able to cover this distance with luggage in tow in 5 to 7 minutes. But we will able to firm up plans only after the SCLR project is complete.” Work on the travelator can only begin after railway land is cleared of construction material and debris from the much-delayed SCLR project, and a proper vehicular traffic pattern is established.
Though built as a modern terminus, travelling to and from LTT is a commuter’s nightmare. Commuters, especially women, have had nightmarish experiences at LTT. In November last year, a starlet was taken for a “long ride” by auto drivers from LTT and assaulted before she managed to escape. “A cartel of drivers is in cahoots with local police and RTO. It is difficult to break the cartel unless the RTO launches a drive to weed out unscrupulous elements,” said activist Anil Galgali. He said several autos fleece passengers with pre-decided fares and don’t ply by meter. Principal secretary (transport) Shailesh Sharma said, “We plan to streamline the auto service outside LTT by introducing a prepaid stand.” But a prepaid taxi service started at LTT a few months back hasn’t deterred rogue cabbies, sources said. A L Quadros, whose union manages the prepaid taxi service at LTT, said, “There is chaos . We have complained several times to the transport department and railways, but the situation has not changed. The RTO and traffic cops too have done precious little to keep the notorious drivers at bay.” An activist said, “Passengers arriving by early-morning or late-night trains have no option but to depend on autos and taxis. They are often gullible victims for rogue drivers who even enter the platform premises.”
A senior CR official said, “Though final estimates are yet be prepared, the project is likely to cost Rs 9 crore.” CR also plans to increase platforms at LTT to 12 from the existing five.