Indian government starts Rs 100 crore push to build ‘world-class’ railway stations with space for shopping malls and hotels

New Delhi, June 29: Flamboyant buildings with airport-like facilities, helipads, and executive lounges are going to be standard fare for Indian Railway stations in the years to come.

Train journeys in India will be a different experience altogether, with upcoming world-class stations that will do away with long entry queues, untidy waiting halls, and stinking toilets.

The station buildings will wear a swanky look with separate terminals for arrivals and departures, like the ones at airports.

While the work has started on the development of Habibganj as the first world-class station, Indian Railways is in the process of finalising bids for other railway stations. These include Surat and Gandhinagar in Gujarat, 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 most of any Indian state.

The French Railway has taken up the work of developing Ambala and Ludhiana as world-class 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 to develop 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 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.

The aim is to manage crowds at the railway stations, which go up manifold during the festive rush.

Habibganj station is the first railway station to be redeveloped through the public-private partnership model under the station redevelopment programme of Indian Railways.

The total estimated cost of station redevelopment is Rs 100 crore, while an 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 station users. Parking provision 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, the railways have planned the overhaul of Anand Vihar terminal, which caters to trains bound for eastern states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

Apart from the 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 the railways, the redevelopment of stations will be a major source of revenue generation, besides benefiting lakhs of passengers every day.

For commercial exploitation, the railways plans to raise multi-storey buildings on unused land and lease them out to private firms. In the year 2015-16, the railways posted a deficit of over Rs 32,000 crore and the initiative aims at increasing revenue generation by commercially exploiting its resources.

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