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Santragachi stampede: SER plans to build new footbridge by January 2019

Santragachi station is usually used by the passengers for deboarding rather than boarding trains after buying tickets.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

Stung by allegations of negligence leading to the stampede on the Santragachi footbridge on 23 October that claimed two lives, South Eastern Railway (SER) is planning to build a new footbridge there by January 2019 to avoid recurrence of such a tragedy.

Talking to newspersons at Santragachi station of the SER on Thursday morning, Mr PS Mishra, general manager of SER, virtually conceded that the shortcomings of the footbridge, which is only 2.7 metres in width and 132 metres in length, were one of the reasons behind the stampede.

“For the past 15 years, we are hearing that two footbridges will come up at Santragachi station but nothing has happened till date. To avoid recurrence of such a tragedy in near future, SER is planning to set up another footbridge with a width of 12 metres and 161 metres in length for which the work has to be completed by 31 January, 2019.

“An instruction to this end has already been given to the officials concerned to complete the work on a war footing,” said Mr Mishra.

Despite having conceded the shortcomings plaguing the station for years now, he attributed the apparent delay in completion of the two footbridges planned earlier at the station to “less revenue” earned by the Railways from tickets here. “The revamp of facility has been stalled due to crunch in funds,” said the general manager of SER.

Santragachi station is usually used by the passengers for deboarding rather than boarding trains after buying tickets.

“While the number of passengers boarding trains from the station after booking tickets is 10,000 to 15,000 on an average, the number of passengers using the station for deboarding is much higher, about 40,000-50, 000 on an average,” said an SER official.

That the fiasco was the culmination of several factors plaguing Santragachi station for years now had found an echo in the statement issued by the general manager as he said that apart from the footbridge lacking space, it was hamstrung by the absence of CCTV cameras and inadequate lighting.

“Keeping this in mind, officials were also asked to install CCTV cameras on the footbridge before Diwali and Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) at both the entry points of the station to avoid queues of passengers during the rush hour,” he said.

Mr Mishra, however, denied any goof-up on the part of the authorities over announcement of trains in the Public Address System (PAS) after allegations of failure to make announcement about trains swapping platforms just before the tragedy was made.

“No such negligence in the announcement of arrival of trains was found in the probe,” said Mr Mishra.

He, however, said that to make people more alert about the arrival of trains at the station, the officials had been asked to streamline the announcements over the Public Address System “about half an hour in advance with immediate effect”.