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Crumbling heritage of Royapuram rail station

Swahilya

No action has been taken despite announcement of a renovation Residents feel it can be converted into a model heritage railway station



State of neglect: A view of the dilapidated Royapuram station in Chennai. Photo: R. Ragu

CHENNAI: A Southern Railway signboard at the dilapidated Royapuram Station ironically spells out its commitment to safety, security, punctuality and cleanliness.

But commuters boarding trains here have to cross the tracks to get to a platform. It is the same arduous route to purchase the ticket at the almost deserted counter in the old building.

While security of a lone traveller is under threat even during the day, one can imagine the situation at night. In spite of being the second oldest station (built on July 1, 1856) after the one on the Bombay-Thane route, and situated in the first Assembly constituency - Royapuram and in the first Parliamentary constituency - North Chennai, the Royapuram Railway Station continues to be in a state of neglect. This despite several announcements made by the Union Railways Ministry to renovate the railway station.

It has been a year since Union Minister of State for Railways R. Velu, inspected the station and announced that it would be renovated at a cost of Rs. 1 crore.

The Royapuram Residents' Welfare Association has reiterated its demand for renovating the station and starting the Beach-Tambaram suburban train, and trains going east from Royapuram. The station 28 tracks and over 30 acres.

Association vice-president E. Earnest Paul had submitted a charter of demands to the Railway Minister on improving the Royapuram station.

B.S. Gnanadesikan, Rajya Sabha member, had called for the renovation of the dilapidated structures and utilising the space to decongest the Central and Egmore stations.

T.R. Baalu, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, had requested the Union Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, this February, to commence operation of suburban trains from Royapuram and trains to the North via Gummidipoondi and to renovate the Washermanpet station.

The station does not have overhead bridges for commuters. An elderly man, who had difficulty in getting down the platform for purchasing a ticket said: "Now that a goods train is coming out of the harbour, I can't get to the road for another 10 minutes."

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