As part of measures to improve accessibility for the disabled, ramps are being spruced up, and pedestrian-friendly tiles laid, at the Mass Rapid Transit Railway System (MRTS) station at Light House. A ramp is also being constructed at the Velachery station.
However, the larger issue of non-functional lifts and escalators continue to plague MRTS stations. These stations are difficult to access, badly maintained and very disabled unfriendly, say those who have travelled by the trains.
“At many stations the lifts do not work. Maintenance is also poor,” said M. Mani, who is visually impaired.
The stations are barely accessible, and the trains too are not disabled friendly, said K. Gopainath, State general secretary, Tamil Nadu Udavikkaram Association for the Welfare of the Differently Abled. “The flooring is also not good. We use the service only when we are forced to,” he said.
R. Shanthi, whose son has low vision, said she had found travelling by the MRTS extremely difficult. “Many a time, during night journeys by the MRTS, we have found stations where the lifts do not work, to be lacking in lighting arrangements too. There would be no lights on the staircase. Many of the steps are also broken, making it difficult for my son. And then, when the train is crowded, entraining is difficult,” she said.
Another glaring problem is the poor accessibility to the emergency exits. There is no training for the staff on how to deal with people with disabilities, said disability rights activist Rajiv Rajan.
“Access is not only about ramps. There are many other aspects to it, which the MRTS stations lack,” he said.
Denying that suburban railway stations lacked facilities for the differently-abled, a senior official of the Southern Railway said that except for a few stations, escalators and lifts have been repaired and are operating properly