Following public outcry about wide gaps between platforms and footboard of trains, the Railway Board has directed the Central (CR) and Western Railway (WR) to reduce the gap, despite the Research Design and Standards Organisation, the Indian Railways’ design approval body, yet to give written nod for the proposed change. The Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) is not convinced of the safe passage of trains through suburban platforms if the height is increased to 920 mm, railway officials said.
In fact, since 2012, the RDSO has repeatedly denied permission for changes in the Schedule of Dimensions (SODs) of platforms. SOD is the standard measurement that has to be adhered to during civil engineering works.
Following an accident on January 5, in which 16-year-old Monika More lost her arms after falling into a gap around a signal pole at Ghatkopar railway station, railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge asked the railways to reduce the gap between platforms and train footboards.
While presently the gap between the platform and the footboard has to be between 760 mm and 840 mm, it is proposed to be increased to 920 mm at 74 stations identified by the zonal railways. During a recent visit to Mumbai, Devi Prasad Pande, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, inspected the new platform height at Charni Road and Grant Road stations recently.
Asked about the RDSO’s stand on the proposed platform height, A K Mathur, executive director (administration) and Chief Public Relations Officer, RDSO, said, “With the Bombay High Court ordering an expert committee to examine the gap, RDSO will undertake new trials along with the railways and the litigants.”
A senior WR official said, “We are yet to receive a written approval from the RDSO for the new height at platforms.”
Following initial field trials by RDSO, the Railway Board on August 29, 2012, asked WR not to make any changes to the height of platforms, and instead make good the deficiency in platform height wherever it was less than 840 mm.
In a letter dated October 23, 2012, to R Ramanathan, additional member (civil engineering), Railway Board, the then GM of WR Mahesh Kumar had said, “Floor height of Siemens rakes varies from 1195 mm to 1220 mm above rail level… due to this passengers are facing problem in boarding trains or alighting. A trial has been conducted to examine whether raising of platform is possible to reduce this gap.’’
Kumar had further said, “During subsequent correspondence, RDSO has maintained that the height of the platform should be 840 mm only. The same stand was taken in a recent letter.”
A senior railway officer said, “For the past two years, RDSO denied permission to the railways to increase the height of platforms.
The recent incident has nothing to do with the gap between platforms and trains. However, succumbing to public outrage, the railways decided to increase the height without a proper study. One is not undermining casualties arising due continued…