Elphinstone Road: A Station Neglected Forever

Few railways stations must have born out of curse. In case of the Elphinstone Road, it’s double the curse with its partner station Parel.

What if the name of Elphinstone Road is changed to Prabhadevi today? Except for the name, nothing for it has changed here since ages. Those who have frequented it know it very well and feel really sad…

It was around mid-1990s that I would be a part of an unmanageable crowd flowing between the two stations daily. One throng of breadwinners would rush from the Parel end towards the Elphinstone Road and the other, vice versa. These stations have been so pitiable by very characteristics that even a cheerful commuter would turn gloomy as soon as being here. I was not an exception, to an extent. I was working with the Asian Age then (its city editor was Aakar Patel) and its Mumbai office was at Saiman House, off Sayani Road. Every day, I would alight at Parel while traveling from Dombivali, take the narrow railway bridge to the Elphinstone Road, eat famous Vada-Pav and Samosa there in the canteen towards the Churchgate end and, rush outside.

That railway bridge, recklessly doubled but never became capable of serving the purpose, turned into a killer bridge today. Because our politicians are more interested in just two things; renaming railway stations and not reinventing them as need of the time and; setting up inquiry commissions after mishaps instead of averting them. The Elphinstone Road and Parel stations, along with their bridge, are classic examples of administrative negligence, both by the Railways and the Corporation.

Parel attracts less than one fourth of commuters compared to Dadar. It is really frightening to even imagine how many Mumbaikars would die in case such a mishap happen at day, Dadar, Dombivali, Kurla, Masjid Bunder, Thane, Ghatkopar; or Bhayander, Borivali, Andheri, Vile Parle or other bustling stations!

Not just the Elphinstone Road station, Mumbai has many other stations completely neglected by the authorities. Stampede, therefore, is not a one-off affair. It’s happening almost everyday and every night at one or the other suburban station. It’s happening often and especially during festival times. Try being at some suburban railway station on a day like Gudi Padwa, Bhau Beej, Raksha Bandhan and chances are you would experience a near-death situation passing through a bridge.

From students to elders and from physically challenged to families with young kids, all are forced to experience it in this city, just because it is considered as their fate by the administration. “If you wish to be in Mumbai, you have to be prepared to bear all this, period.” No wonder then in this city, you can reach home safely only if you survive local train travels.

Sad that we all have to continue living like this, irrespective of bullet trains make it to India.

Sad that authorities want votes and not concerned about Mumbaikars’ woes.