PUNE: The September 29 Elphinstone stampede in Mumbai, where 22 people lost their lives, has primed the Pune railway division to be on their watchful best of the foot overbridges (FOBs) at their stations. In the last two days, a team of senior officials has surveyed all the three existing FOBs at the Pune railway station and is gearing up for a safety audit of all the other FOBs in the entire Pune railway division.
“The Elphinstone railway station incident was tragic. It has alerted officials concerned across the country regarding the safety measures over the FOBs at the railway stations. From the last two days, a team lead by Additional Divisional Railway Manager (ADRM) surveyed three FOBs at the Pune railway station during different times in the day and night as the footfalls varies. We gauged properness of the infrastructure, security systems and many other things,” said Pune Divisional Railway Manager B.K. Dadabhoy.
He added that they are going to handle the safety audit of all the FOBs across the 74 stations under the Pune railway division, as demanded by Pune MP Anil Shirole.
“On the background of the unfortunate incident, security checks at the Pune railway station are the need of the hour. I have written a letter demanding this safety audit to the Central Railway general manager, to ensure safety and security of the passengers travelling from the Pune railway station,” Shirole said.
The inspections have truly become the need of the hour after the incident, especially in a city which handles 180 train operations with a daily footfall over two lakh. Currently, the railways have completed the work of a new FOB towards Solapur end which connects platform nos. 1, 2 and 3 and is now opened for public. While the work on two other old FOBs has been started which are both towards the Mumbai end of the station and only one comes out over the Raja Bahadur Road. “We have deployed Railway Protection Force (RPF) to continuously monitor this rush and maintain its flow to avoid accidents,” Dadabhoy said.
The new FOB will be constructed for Rs 13 crore, out of which Rs 4 crore has been spent on the initial work, which is expected to gain momentum as the remaining amount rolls in. The bridge will be materialised within this year.
These new bridges also might bring some respite to the passengers who have had horrible experiences in the rush. The regular ones, who have witnessed crowding during certain hours, have various stories to tell. For instance, Kushal Das, who often travel to Kolkata from Pune railway stations often has to face heavy rush when he boards the Azad Hind Express. “At this point of time, the FOBs at the Pune railway station are flooded with public and there is hardly any way to walk properly. Few months ago, I had helped a lady to pick up her luggage, when she fell down while climbing the FOB at the main entrance gate,” recounted Das.