Sole escalator at city's railway station is finally of use to commuters

After remaining unutilised for over eight months due to its wrong placement and direction, the only escalator at Pune railway station has again been "re-oriented". The move came after passengers and commuter groups complained that an escalator moving downwards is of little use, particularly since it was barely visible to commuters intending to go down from the first floor.

Commuters explained that there was a more pressing need for an upward moving stairway. They also maintained that the location of the escalator was such that while coming down, the automatic stairway was barely visible and hence remained mostly unused by commuters.

The escalators, believed to be the first to be installed by the Indian Railways at any of its stations in the country, was sanctioned in the Rail Budget of 1995 and became operational in 1996. But today, the Rs 1-crore escalator sits idle for most part of the day, with railways pushing the blame on glitches and non-availability of technical supervisors.

"A few weeks after its installation, the escalator started having problems. We have seen more non-functional days than functional ones," said Harsha Shah of Railway Pravasi Group. There were also news of railways' plan to scrap the escalator.

During the repair undertaken last year, the direction of the operation was reversed from upwards to downwards. This had displeased many commuters who complained that the escalator was more useful in its upward direction, taking both commuters and their luggage upstairs from the ground floor, as it was much easier to to ferry the luggage downwards using the ramp.

"For the past eight months, it had hardly being used by commuters as it wasn't visible while coming down from the first floor. Also it is much easier to bring luggage downwards using the ramp. It is a painful experience, especially for senior citizens and disabled persons, to carry their luggage all the way over the foot overbridge to reach platforms numbered two to six. We have been complaining about this for a very long time. But the senior officials of the Pune Division have been turning a blind eye to these problems. Finally, we wrote to Central Railway General Manager Subhodh Jain. And it seemed it worked," Shah said.

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