Flamboyant buildings with airport-like facilities, helipad, executive lounges are going to be the characteristics of Indian Railway stations in the years to come. Train journey in India will be a different experience altogether with upcoming world-class stations that will do away with long queues at station entry, untidy waiting halls and stinking toilets.
The station buildings will wear a swanky look with separate terminals for arrival and departure like the ones at airports. While the work has started on development of Habibganj as the first world class station, the Indian Railways is in the process of finalising bids for other railway stations. These include Surat and Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Anand Vihar and Bijwasan railway stations in Delhi, Chandigarh, Shivaji Nagar in Pune and SAS Nagar in Mohali.
A railway ministry official said consultations are being held with foreign experts to develop these stations with world-class amenities. Sources said Uttar Pradesh will have over 12 world-class stations – the maximum in any Indian state. The French Railway has taken up the work of developing Ambala and Ludhiana as worldclass stations while the French experts have also inspected the New Delhi railway station.
A railway board official said countries like Japan, South Korea, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria have also shown interest in developing railway stations in India. Sources in the railway ministry said the government will spend nearly Rs 100 crore for the development of 400 railway stations that were announced in the Railway Budget.
A railway board official said the stations will be developed by creating additional space that will also be used for commercial purposes like shopping malls, multiplexes, restaurants and offices.The most striking feature will, however, be separate terminals for arrival and departure of passengers. Such facilities are currently available only at airports.
“The proposed world class stations will have three levels. The top level will be used by outbound passengers while those arriving from trains will use subways in the basement to exit from the station building. There will be minimum passenger movement on the platforms,” said a senior official associated with the project. This aims at managing crowd at the railway stations that goes up manifold during festive rush. Habibganj station is the first railway station to be redeveloped through public private partnership mode under the station redevelopment programme of Indian Railway.
Total estimated cost of station redevelopment is Rs 100 crore while additional Rs 350 crore will be spent on commercial development. As per the plan, Habibganj will have have dedicated pick up and drop off parking facilities for the station users. Provision of parking for over 1,000 vehicles has been made at the stations.
“The world class stations will be designed as a multi modal transit hub. The stations will have adequate seating and waiting apace so as to reduce congestion. Also, these stations will have multiple entry/exits for better crowd management,” said railway spokesperson Anil Saxena.
“The stations will have segregated areas for passengers, commercial activities and railway officers. There will be dedicated approach roads for traffic to railway station along with municipal roads with its integration in circulating areas,” Saxena said. In Delhi, railways have planned overhaul of Anand Vihar terminal which caters to the trains bound for eastern states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
AN INTEGRATED HUB
Apart from creation of new facilities, the station will be integrated with Anand Vihar station of Delhi Metro and the interstate bus terminal (ISBT).
“As part of Anand Vihar redevelopment plan, railways will remodel the station building on the lines of the airport. The station building will be separate arrival and departure decks while there will be ample space for a hotel, restaurants, coffee shops, multiplex, retail outlets and offices. Business of all sorts will be accommodated at the station building,” officials said.
The redevelopment plan of Anand Vihar is in advanced stage; bids for it will be invited soon. The upcoming railway station at Bijwasan will have ample scope for commercial development.
According to railways, redevelopment of stations will be a major source of revenue generation besides benefiting lakhs of passengers every day. For commercial exploitation, railways plan to raise multi-storey buildings on unused land and lease them out to private firms. In the year 2015-16, the railways have posted a deficit of over Rs 32,000 crore and the initiative aims at increasing revenue generation by commercially exploiting its resources.