Suvidha benches face Western Railway axe

The Asian Age.  | arpika bhosale

Metros, Mumbai

Will help decongest platforms, as GRP, RPF aren’t using them.

The benches were to provide seating for security personnel. (Photo: Debasish Dey)

Mumbai: The Western Railway (WR) is mulling over the removal of Suvidha benches from railway stations to decongest platforms. The railways will also evict all the hawkers from foot overbridges (FOB) in order to provide more space for commuters during peak hours after the September 29 Elphinstone stampede.

The benches were introduced on railway stations to provide seating spaces for the security personnel, which include the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police (GRP).

However, these benches are found usually unoccupied by the security personnel and instead by passengers but more importantly are found to be impediments on platforms and FOBs during morning and evening peak hours.

An official said, “We are thinking of removing those benches from platforms and FOBs especially on those stations that see a high number of footfall during peak hours.”

The WR especially will be removing the Suvidha benches from the Elphinstone Road station platforms. Another official said, “The benches are not usually kept on the Parel-Elphinstone FOB but after the stampede, the discussion of these Suvidha benches and their relevance has come up again.”

The railways on Thursday also promised that it would get rid of all hawkers on railway land in the next 10 days. One of the first stations to see the Suvidha benches gone might be Dadar, Andheri, Virar and Nallasopara.

Railway activist and ex-member of the Divisional Railway User Consultative Committee (DRUCC) Nirmal Takemgarh, said RPF and GRP personnel are usually found spending more time in the small police stations located at the end of platforms instead of the Suvidha benches. He said, “After the stampede the railways is on high alert and you see them on platforms, but earlier they would sit there for a very small part of the time and usually go to their police station.”

He further added, “It’s not that they don’t patrol at all but they don’t use the benches to sit, so if implemented, the decision will actually be a smart one.”