Train stations to be disabled-friendly

CHENNAI: Southern Railway will audit railway stations including major ones such as Chennai Central and Egmore, divisional railway manager B Vishwanath Eerya said on Friday.
The decision was made after the directorate of welfare of the differently abled and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority raised concerns regarding design errors such as lack of tactile paths for visually impaired passengers, ramps without landings, and inaccessible toilets for wheelchair users. Earlier this week, NGOs raised objections to the lack of disabled-friendly facilities at the upcoming Kilambakkam bus terminus.
Southern Railway along with Nissan Motor will initiate modernization effort across Chennai Beach, Kattankulathur, Saidapet, Meenambakkam, Mambalam, Chrompet, Kodambakkam, Ambattur, Guduvancheri, Pallavaram, Tambaram Sanatorium, Kancheepuram, St Thomas Mount, Chennai Chetpet, Vandalur, Nungambakkam, and Tirusulam suburban stations.
For passengers with visual impairments, the modernization project will offer guiding braille indicators, reflective strips on stairs, and sign language videos linked to QR codes, he said. Portable ramps and wheelchairs will be made available on the Divyang (differently-abled) coach, Eerya said.
Last week, Disability Rights Alliance (DRA), an NGO that works for the differently abled, released a report to the media stating the new Kilambakkam bus terminus does not have basic accessibility requirements for the disabled. The Freedom of Movement Coalition also has registered complaints about design gaps including the absence of non-slip flooring, standardized platform edge protection, indoor access on footover bridges, and bilateral toilets.
Nissan Motor managing director Rakesh Srivastava said, “Through the project, we aim to make transportation more inclusive and accessible.”
On platform 4 at Chennai Central, Shalini Selvan was helping her 54-year-old aunt Chandini, a visually impaired woman, board the train. “My aunt wants to travel independently. But we fear for her safety. How will she be able to help herself without facilities to guide people like my aunt,” she asked.

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