When the railway pedestrian subway at Perambur Loco Works was opened to the public we as residents were hopeful of it solving many issues. The size of the subway was also impressive and the fact that the work had been completed despite the pandemic was commendable.
However, two years down the line, there have been many persistent issues around the subway that makes the experience of commuters quite an unhappy one.
Broken tiles and inundation bother subway users
Over the past year, pedestrians have raised complaints over the subway being inundated and not fit for use during rains. The subway gets flooded during downpours, making it unnavigable for those who wish to use it, especially during monsoons.
During a spot audit by the citizens’ group, Perambur Neighborhood Development Forum, we also found other structural issues in the subway.
The first thing we noticed was that the tiles fixed on the footsteps were totally damaged. Most of the tiles were missing. The broken tiles made the surface uneven. This kind of damage makes the flooring dangerous, especially for the elderly.
The stainless steel bollards that had been fixed at the entrance were missing, except for one at a corner. The bollards had not been inserted into the ground properly. As a result, the entrance is wide open without any barriers to slow down a crowd.
Interiors of Perambur subway in poor condition
Inside, the ceramic walls of the subway suffered from poor maintenance. The tiles on the walls had fallen down at several locations and we could see several spots where the tiles were on the verge of coming off. This gives a very shoddy appearance to the subway. One would scarcely believe it has been under two years since it was inaugurated due to its appearance.
The subway was also very poorly lit. This has been an issue across pedestrian subways in the city. Poor lighting makes the facility unsafe for use and may also put off passengers from stepping into the subway out of concern for its state.
The audit team also noticed two of the tube lights that were not secured to the walls and were found dangling by their cables.
Poor waste management and sanitation facilities
Cleanliness and management of waste was also another issue noticed by the audit team looking to the maintenance of the subway. There was garbage strewn all over the inside of the subway. The team had to alert maintenance staff and request them to clean the area.
The space outside the subway is also no better, with heaps of garbage lying piled in corners. The unsanitary conditions also cause people to stay away from using the subway.
The toilet facilities near the subway also leave a lot to be desired. We found that the toilets in the area have been locked up and not available for use by pedestrians.
Pedestrians stay away from Perambur subway
During the audit, it became apparent that the subway was not being used regularly by the commuters. The reasons outlined above contribute to their scepticism of being able to safely use the subway.
Another factor is also that the compound wall along the tracks near the booking office has been damaged and most of the commuters use the opening to cross the railway tracks instead of using the subway.
We spoke to some commuters who frequent this railway station and were given to understand that several fatal accidents had occurred at this spot when passengers tried to get across the tracks; even then, commuters were not keen on using the subway.
We were only left wondering why the railway administration chose to construct the subway in the first place if they did not have enough Railway Police Force personnel to monitor or secure the entrance to the railway station and direct the commuters to the subway.
It has hardly been two years since the subway was opened to the public but its poor state has led us to wonder if any quality audit was conducted during and after the construction of the facility.
We would also like to know if there is any system in place to monitor the quality of civic work being executed in order to prevent similar situations elsewhere. It’s very unfortunate that crores of rupees have been spent on putting up an infrastructure which has failed to serve its purpose.
While the central administration has been showcasing the redevelopment of several important railway stations across the country, we are disheartened to note that little is being done to maintain the existing infrastructure at smaller stations.
We urge the administration to engage with residents in the immediate neighbourhoods as well as the commuters and take their opinion before going ahead with high-value development projects.