Rail overbridge with knee-high parapet wall

Railways overlooks the disaster in waiting at Baiyappanahalli

Rail overbridge with knee-high parapet wall

Precariously perched on a narrow, metre-wide footpath, 70-year-old Nalini Rao walked dangerously on the Baiyappanahalli rail overbridge.

The knee-high parapet wall gave her the jitters as a train passed several feet underneath. She had no choice as the mounting traffic on the NGEF Road pushed her further to that wall.

One false step and a passenger in haste could topple over, falling either on the live wires, or a passing train. Thousands endure this risky walk on the edge of the rail overbridge (RoB) daily, but the South Western Railway (SWR) officials appeared unaware of the danger, clear as daylight to everyone. SWR Divisional Railway Manager, Anil Agarwal, when contacted, said he would check and do whatever is required.

The flashy foot overbridge built by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited across the Baiyappanahalli railway station had promised Metro passengers a hassle-free passage from the terminal. Yet, six months after its launch, the bridge remains largely unused. Many commuters struggling to negotiate the dangerous RoB were apparently unaware of even its existence.

Ryan Sujith and Varun Vaidyanathan, both Bishop Cotton Boys’ School students, would regularly walk up the RoB from Ramamurthynagar, before they caught the Metro to MG Road. For them, the Metro bridge was too far, and the RoB remained the quickest approach to the Baiyappanahalli terminal. Yet, they were wary about those few steps on the narrow, raised footpath.

After dark, the danger looms even larger. Ryan pointed to the streetlights that failed to even flicker at night. “Hundreds of passengers heading out of the Metro and the Baiyappanahalli railway station’s first platform have no choice but to mount the footpath at one end and jump off at the other end. A false step, and you risk falling onto the track or the road, chock-a-block with peak hour traffic.”

Senior citizen Nalini Rao wished she could take an autorickshaw to her apartment a kilometre away. That would avoid her laboured walk on the RoB. “But the drivers demand a hefty fare, which I can’t afford. I can’t do anything but walk. The barriers erected along the parapet wall have come away in the middle, as if to help people commit suicide by jumping on trains underneath,” she sighed, half in mirth, half in resignation.

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