The suburban railway stations and the Metro stations at Andheri and Ghatkopar will soon become the new east-to-west interchange for rail commuters, with authorities ironing out bottlenecks at the four stations for the benefit of passengers.
At present, the two stations at Andheri are connected through a kilometre-long skywalk, and at Ghatkopar, where the two stations are adjacent to each other, they are separated only by a physical barrier on the 12-metre wide FOB at Ghatkopar railway station.
At Andheri, an additional skywalk is being built by the Western Railway with financial assistance from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to connect the two stations.
On the other hand, at Ghatkopar, a small gap between the 12-m wide Foot Over Bridge (FOB) and the ticketing concourse at floor 2 of Metro station is being filled to provide seamless connectivity to suburban rail and Metro commuters. On Saturday, railway authorities removed the physical barriers put up by them, and have allowed MMRDA to begin bridging the slim horizontal gap between the FOB and the Metro ticketing concourse.
At Ghatkopar, the ticketing hall of Metro station is at the level of the 12 m-wide FOB of the suburban station. Once the FOB is connected to the second floor of the Metro station, it will offer seamless connectivity suburban railway and Metro commuters. “We have allowed the MMRDA to work at night. The work is expected to be completed in a week’s time,” said a senior railway officer.
Apart from the direct connectivity between the two stations at Ghatkopar through the FOB, another possibility of connecting the two stations is through the skywalk on the west side of the suburban railway station.
Presently, a dead end of the skywalk, which connects the south end FOB at Ghatkopar station is an eye sore as it terminates just short of the ticketing concourse of Metro station. The vacant portion towards the dead end of the skywalk has turned into a shelter for street children.
“The extended arm of the skywalk was initially supposed to connect the 12-metre wide FOB. However, that did not happen. There was a plan with the MMRDA to extend the skywalk to the ticketing hall of the Metro station. If this is done it will be an additional connectivity between the two stations and help commuters to a great extent,” said a railway officer.
However, Dilip Kawathkar, MMRDA spokesperson said, “While a barrier between the Metro ticketing hall and the railway FOB will be removed when the Metro begins services, additionally, we are connecting the two stations through a new FOB which we will start constructing now. That will take another three months to be functional. We have acquired the land from the railways recently and will begin construction soon,” MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar said. He said there was no plan to connect the dead end of the skywalk as of now.
Suburban tickets to be sold at Metro stations
For a seamless ticketing facility, the Metro will set up Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) counters in its ticketing hall, so that Metro commuters, wanting to use the suburban railways can purchase tickets at the second floor itself and directly use the railway FOB to proceed to any platform. Railways on the other hand plans to install Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) along the FOB to aid Smart Card users to purchase tickets on their own. (ENS)